JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The chatter is always there within parts of the fan base about dynamic playmaker Kadarius Toney, about whether he might get some more work at quarterback in the future for Florida — especially now in new coach Dan Mullen’s spread offense.
In fact, Mullen was asked that very question twice Monday during an event at EverBank Field, first in a session with reporters and later in a Q+A session with several hundred fans.
Mullen appreciates Toney’s versatility, but he wants him focusing on his development as a wide receiver, he said.
“I don’t know how much we’ll get into that in spring [using him at QB]. That would be something, a package maybe for him in the fall, but within the base system I want him learning how to be a wide receiver too,” Mullen said.
Toney came to Florida as a 3-star prospect from the Mobile, Ala., area, and went through his spring practice as a quarterback last year before transitioning to wide receiver. His passing was erratic in the segments of spring practice opened to reporters, and it seemed a smart move to find other ways to get him on the field.
While he was still learning his new position, he needed to touch the football only a few times as a freshman to quickly become a fan favorite.
His overall stats were modest with 15 catches for 152 yards, 120 rushing yards and a 50-yard pass, while being slowed with injuries late in the season, but it was enough to tease the potential for more — much more.
That’s the kind of all-around production Mullen would like to increase, and he will only get fans more excited about Toney with his mention of a former versatile Florida playmaker.
“It goes back to, you know, reminds me as guy that’s a playmaker, you look at a Percy Harvin that we’ve had in the past when I was here, had played a lot of high school quarterback and did a lot of different things coming in,” Mullen said. “But obviously when he has the ball in his hands is extremely dynamic.”
Harvin, of course, finished his Gators career with 1,852 rushing yards on 9.5 yards per carry with 1,929 receiving yards and 32 total touchdowns over three seasons, contributing to two national championship teams before going on to star in the NFL.
In addition to Toney, the Gators have redshirt senior Dre Massey and incoming 4-star freshman Jacob Copeland who could also fit that mold.
The more playmakers, the better, though.
While some fans may want to see Toney as an even bigger focal point of the offense, it sounds like the new coaching staff is committed to keeping him in the role he started learning last season.
“[He] also has to learn how to be a very fundamentally sound football player and that’s going to be important for me too,” Mullen said.
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