Notebook: Toney developing into a complete wide receiver for Gators

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Kadarius Toney (1) is becoming more of a complete wide receiver for the Gators.

Back in January, when he revealed he would not be entering the NFL draft, Kadarius Toney said the main reason he was returning to Florida for his senior season was to try and develop into a more complete wide receiver.

That mission is being accomplished, apparently.

“One of the things I’m really pleased with him is that what I’ve seen from him is just a real development as a wide receiver,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “He’s a guy who was a high school quarterback, started to learn the position. Everybody knows he’s a playmaker. He’s a great playmaker with the ball in his hands. He’s taken such a huge step forward in becoming a wide receiver now.”

Toney is one of the Gators’ most dynamic playmakers. But in his first three seasons, he was not what you would call a traditional wide receiver. He made most of his plays with his legs — as a wildcat quarterback, on jet sweeps and wide receiver screens.

Now, it appears he’s put himself in a position to start making plays in the downfield passing game. 

“Not just kind of a get-it-to guy, which he’ll still continue to be a get-it-to guy for us,” Mullen said. “But every down being a wide receiver, he’s taken some huge steps forward. I’m really excited about that. That’s what you want from those guys. It’s one thing, this utility athlete, get-it-go guy, but when you can become disciplined and a great technician at your position, that takes you to a whole other level.” 

Turner getting it done

Defensive line coach David Turner said on Twitter last week that some schools are negative recruiting against him and the Gators. Turner is not going to respond with some negative recruiting of his own, because that’s not in the UF playbook.

 "I don't think we do a whole lot of negative recruiting because we have so much to sell,” Mullen said. “Only school in America that's both top 10 in football and top 10 in academics. We're the only school to say that. I don't have to put a spin on it or create negative things. We're the Florida Gators.”

As for Turner, he has such a good track record as a recruiter and developer of talent that he does not need to resort to negative recruiting.

“The thing about David that's so special is he's not just a great football coach and a really good recruiter, but it's the mentor and the man that he is and the effect he's able to have on these guys' lives beyond football I think is really special,” Mullen said. 

“Obviously, if you look at his track record and all these NFL superstars that he's been able to coach and develop through the years. Just go look at the guys he's coached in college and add up their contracts and it's a pretty good lump sum of money right there that these guys are getting.

“But not just that; the relationships that he's been able to build with them, how he's been able to help all of these young guys grow as men. Not just going on to big-time NFL contracts, but growing as men. I think that's the thing that is his best trait."

Mullen seeking feedback

After this weekend’s college and NFL games, Mullen plans to reach out to those he knows in the business to get a feel for what it’s going to be like playing in front of sparse crowds. UF’s home attendance is going to be only about 17,000 a game, or 20 percent of stadium capacity.

 “We’re going to do that over the next week because you have some (college) games being played,” Mullen said. “I want to talk to some NFL people as well and get a feel for every different aspect of it with the stadiums, the lack of crowd noise, how the pumping in music affects things, just the overall game-day feeling and the difference.”

Monday night’s BYU-Navy game was played with no fans in the stands. But Mullen missed that opportunity because the Gators were scrimmaging at the time.

“BYU usually plays in front of a pretty big stadium, huge home crowds,” Mullen said. “We're going to probably give a shout (out) to (BYU coach) Kalani (Sitake) and some of these other guys as they keep playing and say, ‘Hey, what did the atmosphere have an effect on your team? What’s the feeling like in the stadium.’ ” 

One positive test

For the first time since early July, the football team has had a positive test for COVID-19. According to information released by the UAA on Wednesday, there has been one positive test in September for football, and seven for student-athletes in other sports.

Since May 26, there have been 22 positive tests for the football team and 42 in the other sports.