High school coach talks Kadarius Toney's origins
Kadarius Toney had quite the career at Blount High School in Eight Mile, Alabama.
Back in his high school days, Toney led the offense in his final two years as a dual-threat quarterback. As a junior, Toney threw for 3,604 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 896 yards and an additional 16 touchdowns. His performance earned him a selection as Alabama 6A Second-Team All-State in addition to AL.com Coastal Alabama First-Team.
The following season, Toney put up similar numbers, finishing with 2,984 passing yards and 32 passing touchdowns along with 894 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. He was named Alabama 6A Back of the Year and made the AL.com Super All-State Team.
Toney's high school coach Lev Holly recently joined Lance Medow and Paul Dottino on Big Blue Kickoff Live to re-live the Giants' first-round pick's days at Blount High School.
"I realized this guy has intangibles that I thought could be really special," Holly said about when he first arrived at Blount High School and saw Toney. "He was just a raw athlete, he was a competitor. I just remember the first conversation, I just told him 'Man, you have a chance to be really special. If we're going to do it, it's going to be because of you. Wherever we go, you're going to take us.' He accepted it. He accepted the role and a certain responsibility of being that guy. I look at the success of this program over the last six years, and it definitely started with Kadarius Toney and his era here at Blount High School."
Toney had great success serving as a dual-threat quarterback, going 20-5 for Blount in his two seasons as the starting QB. The talented athlete received scholarship offers from multiple schools, including several in the SEC.
At the end of the day, Toney was drawn to Florida in part because of the Gators' honesty about their plans for him. While he was recruited as a quarterback, the coaching staff was clear with him that even if he didn't win the QB competition, they would find a way to get him onto the field.
"Florida was really honest through the recruiting process," Holly said on BBK. "They didn't blow any smoke, they pretty much told him 'Hey, you're coming in as a quarterback. If you win the job, great. If not, then hey, you're too talented not to be on the field. We'll move you to receiver.' When that happened, he took it. He had to go in and learn his craft… I think this year, you gave him those years to develop as a receiver and learn the game at that position, and I think that's why the New York Giants selected him 20th overall."
While appearing in 27 games throughout his first three seasons, it wasn't until his senior year in Gainesville that Toney truly got an opportunity to showcase his skills. After 50 total receptions his first three years, Toney reeled in 70 passes for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020, adding another 161 yards and a score on the ground.
Toney's skillset is truly remarkable. His versatility will provide the Giants' offense with a dynamic weapon that should help open up the field for the rest of the offense.
In terms of who the Giants are getting off the field? According to Holly, Big Blue is getting quite a special person in that regard as well.
"As far as him as a person, I don't think you'll meet a better person…" said the high school football coach. "He's a very likeable guy, he's loved in the locker room, and I think that says a lot about who you are on the field."
Fourth-round pick Elerson Smith signs rookie contract
Outside linebacker Elerson Smith, the Giants' fourth-round draft choice, has signed his rookie contract.
He became the fourth member of the six-man draft class to do so, joining fellow linebacker and second-round pick Azeez Ojulari, and the two sixth-round choices, running back Gary Brightwell and cornerback Rodarius Williams.
Smith played in 38 games with 15 starts in three seasons at Northern Iowa, where he recorded 85 tackles (41 solo) 22.0 sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, 16 quarterback hits, eight passes defensed, and two blocked kicks.
He did not play in what would have been his final season after the Missouri Valley Conference postponed its 2020 season to early 2021. In 2019, Smith started all 15 of the Panthers' games and was named first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference and first-team All-FCS by the American Football Coaches Association All-American. He recorded career-high totals of 63 tackles (28 solo), 14.0 sacks, 21.5 tackles, a school single-season record 14 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks for a team that finished 10-5. He Led the MVC in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles.
View the best images of the draft class on the field for the first time at the 2021 New York Giants Rookie Minicamp.
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