Meet The Cubs: Tim Toone

>> 4.26.2010

Tim Toone7.48, 255: Timothy Toone, Weber State WR
About seven seconds into my research on Toone, I knew what we were in for.  That catchy, alliterative name, plus a phonically germane nickname: “Tarzan.” Those incredible, flowing, straw-colored dreadlocks.  His tiny FCS Utah school.  His blazing speed, his special-teams prowess, and his legendary work ethic.  Of course, his coveted “Mister Irrelevant” status as the final pick in the 2010 draft.  All the elements are there, all the pieces are in place.  Tim Toone is a mortal lock to be this year’s marquee inductee into the Lions Fan Hall of Fame.  Immediately, my words from last year about Zack Follett came rushing back to me:

Zach Follett is going to be the next inductee into the Lions Fan Hall of Fame. Players like David Kircus, Scotty Anderson, Casey Fitzsimmons, David "Blue" Adams, Greg Blue, and Buster Davis have been drafted late (or signed as a UFA) by the Lions, made a big play or two in training camp or preseason, and become cult heroes--often, with fans insisting that these practice squadders and/or bench riders would be immediate upgrades over the current starters, if only they were given the opportunity. Zack Follett perfectly fits this profile; I have no doubt we'll be seeing Follett jerseys in the stands sooner rather than later.

The only way he could be any more perfectly qualified would be to have played at GVSU, or come up through the Detroit Public Schools system.  Unfortunately, Toone hails from from Peoria, Arizona—where, despite being first-team All-State as a senior, he was unknown to Scout.com, and an unranked one-star recruit at Rivals.com.  His senior year, he caught 37 balls for 1,125 yards, setting an all-time state record for YpC with 30.4.  Thirty.  Point.  Four.  Yards.  Per.  Catch.  I love me some high school statistics.

Timonthy “Tarzan” Toone redshirted (and paid his own way) his first year at Weber State, then served his two-year Mormon mission in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.  NFL Draft Blitz asked Toone about that mission, in one of the most desperate and war-torn regions on Earth:

It was difficult, but it helped me grow up. It made me more responsible. I had life goals after I came back from the mission. I knew how to work hard towards those goals.

Work hard he did, immediately making an impact as a deep threat.  He had seven catches for 275 yards (39.3 YpC).  Nine games in, he took over as punt returner, and in his first game he took a punt back 61 yards to the house. 

As a redshirt sophomore, he was the team’s second-leading receiver, with 32 catches for 698 yards (21.81 YpC) and 10 TDs, tying the school’s single-season receiving TD record.  Toone was named Honorable Mention All-Big Sky conference that year, but it was only a hint of what was to come.  Over the next two seasons, Toole became the Wildcats' primary offensive threat: over the next two seasons, he averaged 83.5 catches, 1,314.5 yards, and 8.5 TDs--and was first-team All-Big Sky Conference in both seasons.

How does all that small-school success translate to the big time?  Sports Illustrated grades Toone as a 2.05, a practice-squadder.  Most of the information I can find agrees: at Weber State, Toone’s calling card was his blazing speed, but that speed is merely adequate at the next level.  However, his technique, his willingness to go across the middle, his hands in traffic, routes, body control, they all grade very well.  His lack of typical deep-threat size (5’-11”, 170 pounds) means that though he put up outlandish, ridiculous YpC numbers in college, he projects to the NFL as a sneaky, second-level possession receiver—one who’s very dangerous after the catch.

As for character . . . well, Toone grades highest of all in that category.  Here’s a great ESPN TV interview of Toone, where they closed it out by asking how he’d apply the lessons learned in west Africa to his life in the NFL:

It's for Detroit, the team is for Detroit. To try to help them out, and do everything I can to make that city proud, and happy to be a Detroit Lions fan.

It’s not just his off-the-field exploits that show great character and work ethic.  Here’s a little piece from the Deseret News, telling how Toone punished himself for loafing after an eight-catch, 135 yard, 2 TD performance that won his team the game:

I just was not playing like I usually do, so I had to go in there [the up-down circle].  I felt like I didn't block and do all that I needed to do, all the little things that count. Maybe if I would have blocked a little more, some big plays would have sprung and we wouldn't have been in that situation [to need a last-minute touchdown].

Wow.

Well, enough of that nonsense; let’s get to what really matters; the only true oracle of NFL success: YouTube highlight reels!




Subjectively, it’s hard not to love the hell out of this kid.  Like I said, all the indicators, all the effort, all the character in the world.  Looking at these clips, he’s obviously in a class by himself on this field, but his speed is far from breathtaking.  However, his hands, routes, football sense, and open-field ability will certainly give him the inside track on impressing the coaches over, say Derrick Williams.

In fact, that's how I’d say Toone projects: as Derrick Williams’ replacement, if Williams doesn’t get his head screwed on straight.  Sap away a little bit of Williams’ speed, and add all the common sense, sticky hands, and work ethic that he lacks, and it’s hard to see how the resultant player wouldn’t be Toone.

I'm not guaranteeing a roster spot for Toone, but I’ve said several times that neither Bryant Johnson, nor Dennis Northcutt, nor Derrick Williams appears to have any great future here as a Lion; any of them could be cut tomorrow and I wouldn’t be that surprised.  A kid who’s put service, hard work, and team success above all else—including his own career?  You absolutely want to see him succeed, and I think he’s got an excellent chance here.


15 comments:

Anonymous,  April 28, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

And I think I have a new favorite Lion. Want to hear another crazy fact about him? Schwartz was on an interview with Jim Rome and he said that Tim was taken hostage during his mission in South Africa.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your rookie write ups Ty. Keep up the good work.

Ty April 28, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

See? Resistance to the Toone is futile.

I was wondering if something happened, because I could not find ANY info on where he went, or what he did, beyond "went to West Africa" online. When asked about it he'd talk about lessons learned, but never the experiences.

. . . and thank you.

Peace
Ty

Mike,  April 28, 2010 at 9:50 PM  

Ty, you never cease to amaze me, and entertain me as well.

Toone is the toast of the town in SOCAL this week; Mr. Irrevelant Week. There will be a parade, and a banquet in his honor.

Toone will bring an infectuous character to camp, and will easilly supplant Williams and Northcutt in a PR/KR role. The days of "Feather Merchants" is over in Detroit.

Toone had zero turnovers. This is a stat that is easilly overlooked. Toone plays well in contact, would rather die, than fail, pays his dues.

A keeper, if ever I saw one.

Ty April 29, 2010 at 11:06 AM  

Mike--

Wow, thank you for the kind words. I hope I continue to never cease!

I hope Toone makes the squad, I think he's a good fit with a bright future.

Peace
Ty

eric@ April 29, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

Hoping we all sing a Toone this year for him.

Like many drafted this year and last, he has GREAT character and work ethics.

Nice article Ty, I cannot wait to see the pre season looks we get of Tim.

Is his middle initial N? That would make TNT for his initials....how appropriate!

Anonymous,  April 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM  

I think Derrick Williams lacks intelligence, but is there any reason to believe that he lacks work ethic?

We'll see about Williams. He could be this year's Mario Manningham ... another receiver who did nothing his first year, but then the NFL games clicked for him in the second year.

I like Toone too.

Anonymous,  April 29, 2010 at 3:11 PM  

I'll proceed as anonymous 2,
I like Derrick Williams and believe that he had the Talent to do what was hoped that Toone can do this year.
And if Derrick perks up and plays well,It might be because Toone is nipping at his heals.
The thing or differance about Williams and Toone is this I believe.
Toone wants the Job with the LIONS and i'm not so convinced that Derrick Williams or Northcutt really wanted to play for Detroit.
I sometimes got the same feeling for D.Johnson.
there is where the differance may lay.
Hopefully Toone will prove to be The right man for the job at hand.

Anonymous,  April 29, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

That sounds like some "anonymous" words spoken right from the horses mouth. You aren't getting caught up in the blog hype are you D.W?

Ty April 30, 2010 at 2:45 PM  

Anon 1-

Okay, that's a fair point. I don't know that Derrick Williams isn't working hard--what I do know is that he made some mental errors in camp, and in preseason, and in the regular season, and those kinds of lapses seem to be Jim Schwartz's pet peeve.

While there isn't necessarily a direct link between effort level and concentration level, I've found that when you work really hard to prepare, space-cadet moments are much rarer.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 30, 2010 at 2:50 PM  

Anon 2--

I felt last year that Williams was exactly the right kind of player the Lions needed--an explosive slot receiver, an excellent returner, a versatile talent who could be effective right away, without having to be a polished veteran.

In terms of talent, let's be real: Toone was a borderline FBS player who couldn't get a schollie because he wanted to do a two-year mission. Derrick Williams was the #1 overall high school recruit in the nation. There's no question that Williams, if he turns it on, is a vastly better player than Toone. The question is, will he turn it on?

Schwartz, I think, is going to want to see softer hands and a much sharper focus from Williams before he gets significant reps.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 30, 2010 at 2:59 PM  

Anon 3--

Hey, if players want to come on here and tell me why my four-eyed Internet nerd rants are wrong, I'm all ears. I doubt that Anon 2 is DW himself--but if so, I'm glad he checked in.

For the record, on this blog, you're always getting 100% me, right or wrong. I'm honest about my opinions, and I freely, frequently acknowledge that I'm just a fan and I'm often wrong. In fact, I rely on you folks to catch me and call me out!

Peace
Ty

Leeann May 2, 2010 at 5:58 AM  

As one who knows (and loves) Tim, I can tell you that you can't measure his heart! He served his mission in Ivory Coast before being evacuated with the other white missionaries due to the civil war. He went to Ghana for several months, then to Sierra Leone, then back to Ghana. These areas were all part of the same mission. Yes, he had some extraordinary experiences that for now he wants to keep private. He does want to succeed and not just for him, but for the team and the city! Every time the all knowing of the football world say he can't play at the next level, he does and plays well. I don't think the NFL experience will be any different. He has been blessed with so many talents that he shares in many ways. I hope he is able to make the Lions and Detroit proud!

Ty May 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

Leeann--

Thanks for commenting! I'm glad you found the site and commented. I certainly respect Tim's wishes for privacy, and I commend him for his service . . . most Americans wouldn't dream of putting themselves in harm's way for the good of others!

I hope he catches on, here, too! There's certainly a need for his skill set on the field, and there can't possibly be enough young men like him in any line of work. Thanks again for checking in.

Peace
Ty

Anonymous,  June 8, 2010 at 10:07 PM  

Its funny that the kids mom has to parade around the internet posting comments of what all have to say, either an over protected mother of a 25yo or there are some skeletons in Toones closet. I too would try and find every article about my kid but from what ive seen this is the 4-5th post Ive seen around the web from Leeann sticking up for her "little boy". All aside, for the lions sake I hope Toone proves himself as a asset to the Lions, and if not, we got SUH!! Go lions 2010

Anonymous,  August 13, 2010 at 4:03 PM  

Tim has better speed then everyone thinks a 4.37 40 is pretty good i beleive thats what he ran at his pro day at WSU I had a class with him he is a great guy and hopefully he makes it!

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