The University of Florida’s football program has been in overhaul mode this offseason. Jim McElwain was fired mid-season after an embarrassing blow out loss to bitter rival Georgia. The offense never took off under McElwain the way Florida fans had expected. During the extensive coaching search, the Gators zeroed in on former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen who had been the head coach at Mississippi State for nine seasons. Mullen was the OC during the Urban Meyer years at Florida.
The Gators offense has been inept, to say the least since those productive seasons under Meyer and Mullen. That is all expected to change this upcoming season with Mullen’s return to Gainesville and one player who will benefit mightily is, quarterback turned wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
In Mullen’s offense, Toney is expected to play the “Percy Harvin” role. Harvin did it all for the Gators in Mullen’s offense. They utilized his skill set by moving him all over the field to create matchup problems. Toney has shown flashes of similar abilities and those will be highlighted this season. Expect 2018 to be the breakout season of Kadarius Toney.
High School: M.T. Blount High Scool
Toney grew up in Mobile, Alabama where he attended Blount High School. Toney participated in track and football during his high school days.
Toney’s high school football career was a prolific one. He started at QB his junior and senior years. While at the helm Toney went 20-5 as a starter. He racked up multiple accolades over his final two high school seasons. During his junior season, Toney was selected to the Class 6A All-State second team after passing for 3,604 yards 37 TD and adding 896 yards and 16 TD on the ground.
Toney’s senior year was just as productive. He was named 2016 Class 6A Back of the Year and made the 2016 AL.com Super All-State team. He produced 2,894 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air and added 894 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. Following his senior season, ESPN rated Toney as a 4-star prospect. Toney would commit to Florida over offers from Alabama, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina, among many others.
College Career: Florida
Toney arrived in Gainesville with aspirations of continuing his QB career. The athletic dual-threat QB got buried behind QB’s Luke Del Rio, Feleipe Franks, and Kyle Trask on the depth chart. Once it was clear Toney was not as polished as the other QBs, the coaching staff realized he was much too talented not to see the field in some capacity.
During Toney’s freshman season the coaching staff implemented special packages to get him the ball. Most of these packages included using the wildcat formation. Toney finished the season rushing for 120 yards and 1 TD on 14 carries. Toney also saw time as a slot receiver hauling in 15 receptions for 152 yards. He also passed for 1 TD during the season.
With Dan Mullen taking the reigns of the program Toney’s role in the offense is expected to increase his sophomore season. At times during his freshman year, the transition from QB to WR was a bit rocky at moments. You could tell his route running and catching the ball in traffic was a bit foreign to him. With a full season and now a full offseason honing his WR skills those past deficiencies should disappear. One thing was clear though, once Toney got his hands on the ball his natural running ability shined.
Throughout the spring practices, the imminent emergence of a breakout season for Toney was evident. So much so that Dan Mullen expects to use him like he did Percy Harvin during the national championship seasons of 2006 and 2008. These are lofty expectations to put on a player only one year after a position change, but Toney is more than capable of carrying the load.