At times last season, Kadarius Toney looked like, well, a quarterback playing receiver. Let’s just say he didn’t always look natural lining up in the slot and running pass patterns.
He did, of course, look very natural once the ball was in his hands, making defenders whiff with his lightning-quick, ankle-breaking moves.
The good news for Toney and the Gators is now that he has had time and lots of coaching at slot receiver, he’s starting to look and feel more natural at the position. He looked like a wide receiver this spring, not a quarterback trying to play wide receiver.
He’s advanced to the point that coach Dan Mullen said Toney is going to play the Percy Harvin role in the offense this fall.
“It’s kind of an honor, just to know what Percy did in the past, and implementing that into today’s game,” Toney said. “I think I fit (the offense) with a lot of the quick stuff. The way they interpret me is going to be tremendous, I think.”
Even in a somewhat limited role last season, Toney showed how electric he can be with the ball in his hands. Some of the moves he put on defenders were outrageous. Jim McElwain referred to him as the human joystick.
Toney said he doesn’t really plan those moves, they just happen.
“Natural,” he said. “I thank God, really.”
In the Tennessee game early in the season, Toney made several defenders look ridiculous just trying to get a hand on him after catching short passes in the flat. But he said his favorite play of the season came the following week, at Kentucky, when he made about half the UK defense miss on a 36-yard touchdown run.
“The most memorable play for me was Kentucky, my touchdown run,” he said.
Now that he’s settled in at slot receiver and has some valuable experience to build on, the expectation is for Toney to significantly increase his production.
“I’ve always worked hard, so it’s natural to get better,” he said. “I expect a lot more because I’ve got the experience that I needed.”
Toney seems happy in his new role, but that doesn’t mean you can take the quarterback out of him. Even though he did not have a chance to do it in the spring, Toney is hoping he’ll get some plays at quarterback in the wildcat formation this season.
“Hopefully it happens, because I want to show them what I can do,” he said.