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Ex-Gators star Kadarius Toney drafted 20th by the Giants

The do-it-all athlete is the second Florida player chosen in the first round.
Former Gators star Kadarius Toney was the 20th overall pick Thursday night.
Former Gators star Kadarius Toney was the 20th overall pick Thursday night. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]
Published Apr. 30
Updated Apr. 30

Former Gators receiver Kadarius Toney became the second Florida player drafted Thursday, going 20th overall to the Giants.

The 5-foot-11, 193-pound Alabama native started his college career by spending time at quarterback before settling into a more appropriate role: dynamic, do-it-all athlete.

Toney lined up at running back, receiver, punt returner, kick returner and, yes, quarterback during his four seasons at Florida. He totaled 2,641 all-purpose yards with 12 receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and one score on a punt return. He also threw the go-ahead touchdown pass at Mississippi State in 2018. He was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player.

Toney’s numbers don’t truly reflect his dynamic ability. His highlight reel is a sizzling compilation of lightning-quick stops and starts and ankle-breaking jukes. He was arguably the Gators’ most electric player since Percy Harvin.

It wasn’t always a good thing. Coach Dan Mullen said repeatedly in Toney’s earlier years that something exciting would inevitably happen whenever Toney touched the ball. You just didn’t know whether it would be good or bad.

By 2020, the tone changed. Toney matured from a weapon UF would have to target specifically through jet sweeps or quick passes into one who could get the ball in the natural flow of the offense. He went from a pure athlete to a more polished receiver. Toney led the Gators with 70 catches and 984 yards last season before opting out of the Cotton Bowl.

He becomes the fourth UF receiver to be chosen over the past two drafts. That doesn’t include 2020 undrafted free agent Joshua Hammond or tight end Kyle Pitts this year’s fourth overall selection. Another, Trevon Grimes, is a potential Day 3 pick this year.

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