Three months out of high school, the newcomer from Alabama stood out in Friday’s spring game. Freshman quarterback Kadarius Toney drops back to pass in Friday’s Orange & Blue Debut. (Photo: Jay Metz/For UAA Communications) GAINESVILLE, Fla – In Friday night’s Orange & Blue Debut spring game, the focal point for most was the ongoing quarterback battle between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask .
So when a true freshman named Kadarius Toney stepped onto the field, some fans had already left and others knew little about the newcomer from Eight Mile, Ala.
They soon took notice as Toney outplayed the defense for an athletic touchdown pass. Or when he ripped a 34-yard run down the right sideline.
"That’s a daily thing," cornerback Chauncey Gardner said. "He’s quick, elusive. He’s a running back playing quarterback. You see he can run, you see he has a good arm, and he keeps his eyes downfield to make sure everybody’s in the right place. You see how he got it to the right guy for a touchdown, so he’s doing good."
In his college debut, Toney finished 3 of 5 for 24 yards passing and rushed for a game-leading 74 yards on five attempts.
Toney’s highlight-worthy touchdown pass came after a nifty scramble that deserved recognition of its own. Facing pressure as he dropped back, Toney turned his shoulder against the rush from his blind side and rolled around to his left, just missing the outstretched hands of multiple defenders. Kadarius Toney sprints for a 34-yard gain on Friday. (Photo: Jay Metz/For UAA Communications) It would have been reasonable for Toney to cut his losses as he headed for the sideline. It certainly looked like a throw-away was the best-case scenario faced with the teeth of the Gators defense closing in.
Instead, he threw a touch-pass across his body, finding freshman receiver Tucker Nordman at the left pylon for six points – all right before he took the brunt of a late hit as the defense reached him.
As one of the defenders tasked with shutting down the Gators offense in practice, junior defensive back Duke Dawson knows the type of damage that Toney can do as a dual-threat quarterback. "You have to be very, very dialed in because he can throw and he can run," Dawson said.
While those seven seconds during the scoring play might have astounded the casual viewer, it was all part of the reason why Florida coach Jim McElwain recruited Toney.
"I was really excited about Kadarius. Obviously, we know what we have there," McElwain said. "That’ll be a guy that needs to touch the ball for us."
The ‘what’ factor on the touchdown pass happened to be his agility, poise, and downfield vision, his eyes searching to extend the play. Later in the fourth quarter, as time expired, he extended the play in an entirely different way.
In the face of more pressure and with no receivers open, Toney darted to his right and promptly burned rubber down the sideline.
Thirty-four yards later, the game was over, a 31-0 […]