While the nation's top senior football players gathered in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, standout juniors from across the nation also descended on the Alamodome to test their mettle at the U.S. Army National Combine. Among the juniors was 6'7" 234-pound tight end Levine Toilolo from La Mesa (Calif.) Helix High School. We caught up with Toilolo before he headed to San Antonio for the combine.
Before going to San Antonio, Toilolo closed out a senior season in which he helped lead Helix to an 8-2-1 record that culminated in a close loss in the CIF San Diego Section Division II semifinals. Playing primarily as a tight end as Helix transitioned from a Wing-T offense to a spread offense, Toilolo contributed 20 catches for 250 yards and four touchdowns.
"I think it went pretty good," the junior says. "It was kind of tough at the beginning of the season just to get everything situated with the offense. We just had to find all the right players. I think overall our season went pretty well."
As Toilolo hints, Helix faced a learning curve as they got comfortable with the spread and identified the proper personnel for the new offense, which included a junior quarterback who will go into next season with a year of experience under his belt. The first month of the season featured two single-digit wins, a loss, and a tie. After that stretch, however, the Highlanders hit their stride with a stretch of six consecutive blowout wins before losing a 17-14 semifinal showdown with San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills. In those six games, they never gave up more than a single touchdown and won each game by at least 28 points.
Also a defensive end in addition to a tight end in his previous experience at H-Town Academy, where he played before transferring to Helix when H-Town closed down, Toilolo played in spots on defense in 2007 for Helix.
"I didn't play as much as I was used to," Toilolo shares. "They used me for big games or against big offensive linemen. If they didn't really need me, they tried to leave me for offense. We have players for those defensive positions."
With this pedigree, Toilolo reports that colleges are primarily recruiting him as a tight end. Currently ranked by Scout.com as a four-star prospect and one of the Top 100 juniors in the nation, Toilolo has already started to attract attention from coast to coast. Before he headed out to San Antonio for a combine with the potential to further heighten his already prominent profile, Toilolo had secured offers from Florida, Stanford, Cal, Vanderbilt, and San Diego State. Among those early offers, two stand out for Toilolo.
"I think it's open, but my top schools right now are probably Florida and Stanford," Toilolo offers.
After having Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh visit his school and also speaking with Stanford Recruiting Coordinator Lance Anderson, the junior tight end has a positive impression of the Cardinal.
"I think overall Stanford is really nice," Toilolo begins. "I like how their program is moving up. Everybody knows they're a very good academic school… So I'm really glad Stanford is recruiting me."
"I haven't gotten a chance yet [to visit Stanford]," he continues. "We have the Army combine this week, but I'd like to get up there around January or February for the Junior Day."
After Toilolo returns from San Antonio, he will not only focus on his recruitment and potential unofficial visits, but he will also return to his junior season of basketball and his serious work in the classroom. On the hardwood, his Helix team is 3-4 on the season. In the classroom, he is excelling, with a 4.0 so far this year for "about a 3.8" overall GPA.
"I took the SAT," Toilolo adds, "and I think on the three scores I got about a 1490. I think if I take it a few more times I should be able to score higher."
With his achievement on the gridiron and in the classroom, Toilolo will be sure to continue to draw serious interest from the Gators, Cardinal, and others. Stay tuned for much more on this top junior tight end in the coming months.
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