Leading into the announcement of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason football team later this month, we’re profiling some of the likely candidates for that team. Today’s candidate is Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) senior cornerback Kevin Toliver II.
Kevin Toliver is a yes-sir, no-sir type of player, according to his coaches, but he concedes he’s not always so cordial to opposing receivers.
“I like to get in the receiver’s and the quarterback’s heads,” Toliver said. “I do that by being physical and talking a bit.”
At 6-2 and 190, Toliver enjoys contact, a love for the physical side of football he developed when he was playing youth football for the Sweetwater Athletic Association in Jacksonville.
“When he was little, he would play tight end, running back and linebacker,” said Sweetwater Pee Wee Hawks coach Anthony Drayton. “He was definitely a hitter in Pee Wee. Back then, he was just a regular-sized kid who always gave it 100 percent.”
Toliver’s father, also named Kevin, also coached at Sweetwater and said he noticed his son’s athletic talents before he was in grade school.
“I knew he was an athlete at five years old,” he said. “We put him in T-ball and Biddy Basketball and Flag Football. I saw him run one time and looked at my wife and said, ‘You know what, I think we have an athlete on our hands.’ Football was his favorite sport.”
Though most experts say his future is in the defensive backfield, he plays quarterback and cornerback at Trinity Christian.
“I just like to help my team,” he said. “I was the best fit for quarterback. I have to stay in shape to play both ways, so I never stop working out. I work every day and after football season, I didn’t take a break.”
Trinity coach Verlon Dominey said Toliver is very coachable, regardless of what position he’s playing.
“Most great athletes, a lot of times, don’t listen well,” Dorminey said. “They’ve always been ahead of everybody else, so they like doing it their way. This kid listens to what you tell him and applies it. He’s a great lockdown corner and we play some pretty good talent.”
Toliver has said he plans to sign with Louisiana State. His parents are from New Orleans and his second cousin, Terrence Toliver, played wide receiver for the Tigers. It also doesn’t hurt that LSU has produced several great defensive backs in recent years, such as Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne.
“Those are all reasons why I chose LSU, but also the relationship I had with the coaches, beginning with the first time I stepped on the campus,” Toliver said.
Stats: Not eye-popping, because teams generally don’t throw his way. He had 36 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions. Led team to 3A state title. He played quarterback last season when starter Jaquez Riles went out with a knee injury and threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 502 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught two touchdown passes.
Recruiting rankings: Listed as the No. 1 cornerback in the 2015 class by ESPN, the No. 2 by Rivals, 247Sports and No. 3 by Scout.
On video: Very aggressive, very physical, both as a shutdown corner and against the run. He uses his size (6-2, 190) and speed to dominate most receivers. As a quarterback, he’s more likely to run than pass, but at the next level, he won’t be a quarterback.
Another take: “I have a coached couple of kids who played college ball. I think he has the most talent of anybody I’ve coached and that includes D.J. Gillins, who is a quarterback at Wisconsin this year.” – Sweetwater Pee Wee coach Anthony Drayton.