The most vocal player on the West squad so far has also been one of the more impressive ones. As practice began Wednesday afternoon in the Alamo Dome, the West team took the field. Leading their charge was Terrance Toliver, pointing into the empty stands and taking a bow in front of the vacant seats, imagining accepting their absent praise.
Terrance Toliver has loved the practices so far. However he had a Tuesday afternoon experience that humbled him from his position as Scout.com rated #1 wide receiver.
“It was fun,” Toliver said. “I’m sore right now though. I took a pretty big hit today, I caught it, turned around, and saw a big #40 (Michael Williams) in my face. But I bounced right up. Practices are crazy though, we’ve got some characters. Ryan Mallet is such a crazy guy, he keeps us all energized.”
A great benefit to playing in a large profile all star game such as this is time spent with other great players at the same position. Reports after Mondays practice were that Toliver and Ahmad Paige had separated themselves as the top two wide receivers on the squad. With Florida still high on each of the two receivers’ lists, have the two five star receivers talked about playing together at Florida next year?
“I don’t want to say anything, but Ahmad has been talking about Florida a lot today,” Toliver said. “He even told me today…No, nevermind, I shouldn’t tell you that. Let’s just say he’s been talking a lot about Florida. He told me if he goes there, he wants me to be there with him.”
The Hempstead (TX) recruit said he has mostly been talking to his teammates on the West squad. However one relentless Gator recruiter has been talking to him since his arrival.
“John Brantley told me I should come to UF on the first day, in our very first team meeting,” Toliver said. “We’ve been talking a little bit throughout the week.”
Just after the 6-4.5 receiver could get these words out of his mouth, Gator commitment Torrey Davis walked out of the press room, and proclaimed confidently, “Don’t you worry, he’ll be a Gator!”, stirring nothing but laughs out of Toliver.
It would be impossible for such a highly rated player to attend an event like this without goals. Going up against great cornerbacks as Toliver sees daily, he knows he has to bring his best to every play.
“I just want to prove I’m the #1 wide receiver,” Toliver said. “I want to win it for my team, and win the MVP. If I play like I did in practice today, I can win it for sure. I didn’t come here to just play an average game.”
After seeing Toliver in action this week, there is no doubt he the most complete wide receiver currently in Texas. His fluidity in all that he does is very uncanny for a receiver of his size.
“I think speed is my best asset as a wide receiver,” Toliver said. “Then I’d say my hands probably second, and third would be my route running. Although I think I have good awareness as a wide receiver. I didn’t show it today in practice, especially when I got hit, but most of the time I think awareness is key for me.”
Near the end of the morning session of practice Tuesday, the West team ran a two minute drill. From the defense’s side of the field, on 3rd and 8 came the play that defines Terrance Toliver.
Cornerback Donovan Warren was playing tight coverage, but Toliver managed to get off the line well. The two raced side by side for 25 yards down the field, until Ryan Mallett lobbed a fade to the back of the end zone. Creating perfect separation with his body, Toliver leaped into the air over the much shorter cornerback, pulling the ball down and falling into the back of the endzone.
“Here’s how I see it,” Toliver declared. “When the game is on the line and you want a catch; go to me. That’s what they did today. I never drop any fades like that.”
“I believe I can go up and get the ball with the best in the nation, but I’m a quick guy too,” Toliver said. “I can be successful running any route.”
The Florida coaching staff has been telling Toliver he is a perfect replacement for Gator senior wide receiver, Dallas Baker. In high school, the Hempstead High offense used a lot of screens to Toliver, allowing him to advance his skills as a playmaker.
“I love running the screen routes,” Toliver said. “They’re probably my favorite, just because I want the quarterback to get the ball in my hands and let me create. I’m comfortable with whichever route I’m used in though.”
As far as recruiting, nothing has changed with Toliver. He said a few days ago that he will not be announcing during the game this Saturday, and said he called Coach Meyer to tell him of this decision to wait.
“I called Coach Meyer today and told him that I was 50/50. He kept joking around asking how I could still be 50/50. I also had to let him know that I wouldn’t be announcing Saturday. I may still do it on Signing Day, but not on NBC this Saturday.”
Toliver has been claiming comfort as the biggest necessity a school must have to obtain his services.
“It’s all down to where I feel comfortable. That’s really it,” Toliver said. “When coaches talk to me, I look at their faces to see if they’re lying or not.
“Because I’ve seen that in recruiting they want to tell you what you want to hear, so I try to find out for myself how well I really do fit into a certain program.”
Hands down, Terrance Toliver has been the most impressive player I have seen this week. The rarity of skills he posses is overwhelming. Seeing him run, you understand that a 6-4.5 inch wide receiver simply should not run as smooth as he does. His ability to attack the ball in the air is unparalleled. With both LSU and Florida both looking for a tall playmaker for next year’s offense, Terrance Toliver is there man.