As Gator Nation works to recover from Shoegate, Stadium and Gale is here to remind everyone that there is at least one man to be thankful for today besides Kyle Trask.
Kadarius Toney is often referred to as the “human joystick,” coming to Gainesville as a three-star quarterback from Eight Mile, Alabama. Switching to receiver, Toney got limited touches as a freshman, totaling 152 receiving yards on 15 catches, 120 yards on 14 rushes, 50 yards on a pair of pass attempts, and 15 yards returning. That’s 337 total yards on 32 touches for a true
freshman on an offense and team sorely in need of excitement. The #TouchesforToney hashtag even began trending among Gators fans who saw early that the freshman was going to make a major impact: A modest yet tantalizing look at what was to come.
Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Toney had gotten involved in an off-the-field issue in which he and other players brandished airsoft rifles just months after Dan Mullen got hired, which was admittedly not the best look. Then, he got to work and showed just how lethal of a weapon he could be in year one of Mullen’s system. Nearly doubling his numbers from his inaugural campaign, the sophomore logged 649 yards. He came by 260 of them receiving, another 240 by rushing, 129 through returns, and the last 20 yards and a touchdown came by way of a pass.
Toney's junior season looked promising, with him being awarded the coveted No. 1 jersey, but was cut short by a shoulder injury, only allowing him to amass 265 yards and a touchdown. However, he bookended his frustrating season with a pair of impressive moments.
2020 would show Gator Nation the Kadarius Toney they all knew he was destined to become, helping to lead Florida to the No. 1 passing offense in the country in touchdowns (42) and yards per game (386.4). Though all-world tight end Kyle Pitts would deservedly receive the bulk of the hype for his four touchdowns in game one of the 2020 season, Toney quietly contributed 55 yards on the ground and 59 yards receiving with a touchdown. The senior finished the regular season number one on the team in catches (62) and led all Gators not named Kyle Trask in all-purpose yards (1240). With his touchdown catch Saturday, he drew even with Pitts’ 11 scores on the season as well. Though, Toney recorded nine receiving, one rushing, and one punt return touchdown to make it to that number.
Across his entire career, the man who seems to be made of rubber accrued 82 yards passing, 428
returning, 565 rushing, and 1,437 receiving for a grand total of 2,512 all-purpose yards to go with 15 touchdowns. Those numbers do not even begin to tell the full story.
To add some context to a sea of stats and broken ankles, we've got Toney’s top-five moments as a Gator below:
Honorable Mention: Not a scoring play, but any time a Gator demoralizes FSU, we talk about it.
5. Toney got up on the U early, forcing a bevy of broken tackles and sprinted to the endzone. To Miami’s credit, that series of events didn’t break them, though they would fall to the Gators 24-20.
4. Don't forget, Toney was a quarterback in high school. He seemingly kept his arm up, delivering the only touchdown in Florida @ Mississippi State game: 20 yards from the endzone in the third quarter.
3. Kentucky, meet Kadarius Toney. In a game in which the Gators had no business winning, the heroics of Malik Davis, Luke Del Rio, and Toney led Florida to an improbable, streak extending, 28-27 comeback. For his part, Toney dazzled. With a 50-yard pass, a shifty 36-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat, and 4 receptions for 35 yards, the talented then-freshman officially announced himself to the college football world.
2. Toney came out swinging against Mizzou: three touchdowns, two of which came in the final two minutes before the half. The first, though, was truly Houdini-esque. After catching the screen pass, he came running up to a group of defenders, appeared to be getting tackled, spun out of it, and sprinted down the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown. Sounds simple doesn’t it? That’s what Toney’s done his entire career: make the miraculous seem mundane.
1. Kadarius Toney was arguably the lone bright spot for Florida last Saturday. He seemed bound and determined to almost single-handedly will Florida to the victory. With 248 all-purpose yards and a touchdown, he left his heart on the gridiron in the final home game of his career. In this game, it was hard to point to any one play and say it was objectively better than his others. Every time he was given the ball, he did something special with it.
Statistics and big plays are certainly great for headlines and thought pieces like this one. For Toney, though, there is a moment that poignantly communicates his dedication to the Gators just a little more.
Toney had given everything – even gutting out an ankle injury on Florida’s final drive – and yet it hadn’t been enough. This game and this moment signify more than any other Toney’s commitment to the Gator standard.
Toney, thank you for sticking with the Gators in all kinds of weather and showing Florida fans some of the most electrifying plays they have ever seen.
Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football
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