Perhaps the most explosive player in high school football this year was on edge Saturday evening on the last play of the game at The Swamp. He’s used to being on edge on the football field, but this was different. At this moment, he was just a sports fan, ready to erupt just like 90,734 others in the stadium as South Carolina lined up to attempt a game-winning field goal.
The agony of anticipation turned into the joy of victory in one split second when Florida’s Jarvis Moss, a Texan just like Toliver, leaped high into the air to bat away the South Carolina field goal, preserving a 17-16 win for the Gators. The moment that Moss smacked the ball with his hand, Toliver, a wide receiver from Hempstead, Texas came out of his seat like he’d been shot out of a cannon.
Whether it was just a spur of the moment thing that any sports fan would do or that he was pulling for the Gators with all his heart, he would not say, but Florida Coach Urban Meyer saw his reaction. Sunday morning, when the nation’s number two ranked wide receiver (by Scout.com) visited with Meyer, he saw visible evidence of his reaction to that game-winning moment.
“I ate breakfast and saw the academics, and then I met with Coach Meyer,” Toliver said about his last few hours in Gainesville for his official visit. “I told him that I really enjoyed my visit. Then he showed me film of me jumping up and down and running out on the field at the end of the game.”
When Moss blocked the field goal, Toliver wasn’t the only one that erupted. He was sitting by one of his best buddies, a young man that figures to make a few memories of his own in The Swamp in the future, Cameron Newton, one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits and a Florida commitment.
“Me and Cam Newton were together the whole game,” he said. “He is cool. You know how those Atlanta boys are. He is crazy!”
The Swamp experience was overwhelming. Toliver had never been in a game-day atmosphere quite like the one he was part of Saturday. That Florida won was big. How the Gators won was even bigger.
“I really enjoyed it and the game was amazing,” he said. “I have been to a lot of college games, but I have never been to anything like that. The end of the game how they fought together and won the game by blocking field goals.
“It is very loud and exciting. Whoooo man, the Gator fans are crazy wild! They don’t want to miss a snap!”
Florida put up an impressive 401 yards of offense against South Carolina’s tough defense. Toliver likes what he saw of Florida’s scheme and he can see himself fitting in. He also liked the fact that Florida’s coaching staff showed a willingness to play freshmen.
“I can see myself in Dallas Baker’s role, if not do better,” he said. “I don’t play like a power receiver. I play like a Percy Harvin. I am tall but I have speed and moves. I know they have faith in the young players and they will play them.
On Friday night he was hosted by Gator receiver and fellow Texan David Nelson. They went to the basketball game and then Toliver kind of chilled after that. Saturday night he discovered he has a family connection with the Gators. He didn’t know until this weekend that Florida freshman defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, a fellow Texan, is also his cousin.
“I went out Saturday night with Brandon Antwine, my cousin,” he said. “He is straight and laid back. Man, I loved Gainesville. It was just like one of them players said last night.”
Even though he’s not the most talkative when it comes to making his final decision, it’s pretty much a two-horse race. He also knows when he will make his choice and what will tip the scales in one direction or the other.
“Right now Florida and LSU are in the top two, but not in any order,” he said. “I go and visit them on December 2nd. I am going to decide at the Army All-American game.
“Basically it is going to be where I feel the most comfortable. I want to feel like I don’t have to worry about anything.”
With family ties and the good relationship he is building with the Gator coaching staff, Gainesville seems like a logical choice at this time. Time will tell and that visit in December could go a long way in figuring out where he goes in the end.
Meanwhile he has great memories of the Swamp — the Friday Night Lights experience from back in July and a November gameday when the Gators won the most exciting football game he’s ever seen.