MADISON, Wis. - It took some time, but wide receiver Nick Toon really started to make an impact as last season wore on. In fact, his first career touchdown reception came in the final game of the regular season. Now, after a spring full of track and football, the redshirt sophomore looks to be poised for a breakout season.
Following Wednesday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the 6-foot-3, 213 pound wide receiver. The following is a question and answer from that interview.
First off, how did summer conditioning go for you?
Toon: It went great. Obviously we have Ben Herbert as the new strength and conditioning coach. He did a great job. He changed a lot of things for the positive. He kind of took what (the former strength coach) was doing and kind of put his own twist on things.
How much discipline is needed to reap the full benefits of a summer conditioning program?
Toon: You need a lot of discipline. Obviously it's voluntary so if you don't want to be here, you don't have to be here. So, you have to have self-motivation and team discipline in order to have a successful summer.
Did you gain or lose any weight?
Toon: I put on maybe three pounds. I'm about 212, 213 right now so I feel really good. I'll probably come out of camp around 208, 210. Hopefully I'll be able to play somewhere around there. But I feel real, real good.
David Gilreath and Isaac Anderson are kind of smaller guys. You're coming into the fray as a big receiver. Do you feel like that has been lacking the last few years as far as big wide receivers?
Toon: Obviously my freshmen year we had Paul Hubbard who was a big receiver then Luke Swan. Luke was not a super big receiver, but he's bigger than David or some of the guys that we have out there and he played big. Obviously Paul got hurt and Kyle Jefferson stepped up. Kyle is a taller receiver, I'm not gonna say his weight, but lean is a good term. I think having that physical presence out there on the field is a necessity to success.
I remember talking to you in the spring when you were doing track. How has that helped you now that fall camp has started?
Toon: It definitely carries over. Track season and football season are two different things, but speed is speed. Anytime you can work on strictly speed, which is what track is, it's going to carry over and help you out on the football field. Coming off the indoor track season into spring ball felt like I was flying out there on the field. It helped a lot and hopefully this summer I can continue to do it.
What were you doing, the 200?
Toon: I actually only got to run the indoor season because I ended up getting sick for outdoor season. But, I just did the 60 (meters) in indoor. Hopefully next year I'll run the 60 indoors, possibly four by two, open 100 and a four by one. Just sprints.
That's got to be pretty beneficial, I mean, explosiveness off the line is pretty crucial too as a wide receiver.
Toon: Like I said, track, I just tried to do things that can carry over on the football field. Obviously football is my first sport. Track is kind of just for fun and to help improve my football game. Sprints are going to carry over on the field. Like you said, sprinting is what I do.
You guys are a pretty veteran group now. You didn't lose any wide receiver other than Daven Jones who left the program. Otherwise you guys are all back. That's got to be exciting, too. You guys have got some great depth.
Toon: It was unfortunate to lose Daven, he was a great guy and one of my good friends up here. But we still have a lot of talent, and like you said, we're pretty deep. We're getting older now, we're not old yet, but we are a veteran group and we're going to need to perform and play like a veteran group on the field. It's awesome not to have to lose anybody. That doesn't happen too often.
How close are you guys as a group, off the field, too?
Toon: We're pretty close. I hang out with the receivers a lot. We spend a lot of time with each other during the season. I like to spend a little bit of time just by myself when I'm away, but when I do hang out with guys on the team, it's usually the receivers.
I don't want to harp back on last year, but how would you assess the performance of you guys as a unit last year?
Toon: Obviously moving forward from last year, but we're just trying to take from the things we did last year and improve. Obviously we were a younger group last year, but anytime a group is younger they're going to be more inexperienced. Usually inexperience leads to less production, but we're older now and expectations are higher and we're getting better.
I've heard a lot of talk about Kraig Appleton. What has he shown you so far since he's been in camp?
Toon: Kraig has a lot of talent. He's a natural receiver so I think you're going to be able to see some big things from him in the future.
Do you feel like you have to take him under your wing at all being one of the older guys, even though I guess you're only a sophomore?
Toon: I've been here for three years so I feel like I'm older. But yeah, I help him out. Anytime there is a question, I'll gladly answer it for him. I remember what it was like when I was a freshman. Swanny kind of took me under his wing and helped me out. He taught me a lot so I kind of just want to do the same thing. You know, give back because like I said, I remember how it feels and it's a tough situation.
Aside from the injuries to John Moffitt and Bill Nagy, you guys were pretty healthy throughout the spring and summer as an offensive unit. How explosive can you guys be?
Toon: You know, knock on wood, you want to stay healthy the first few days of camp. But we have a lot of depth at all positions. We have a very talented team. I'm not concerned about any position. I think we have the talent to be very successful this year, we just got to put it together and get ready to play.
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