8/25: Levine Toilolo and Corey Gatewood

Levine Toilolo and Corey Gatewood have made waves in the world of Stanford football in recent days, Toilolo for earning the starting tight end position and Gatewood for switching from cornerback to wide receiver. After the conclusion of practice on Wednesday, The Bootleg was on hand to catch up with the newly minted pair of offensive skill position players.

Post-Practice with Levine Toilolo

The big news is coach announcing you earned the starting tight end job. What are thoughts on that?
I mean it's just a title. I feel like we've rotated so much, I appreciate that, but I still feel like I have to keep working the same way. I feel like all the tight ends are working hard and we're right there with each other, so I feel like it's just a title.

Now this is your second camp, but you weren't completely healthy your first year here, right?
Yeah, I didn't get to do all of training camp last year. This is kind of like my first camp, I think it's been great for my body physically to get tested and just get ready for the season.

So we hear a variety of numbers thrown out there in terms of your height, but we can get the official word from the man himself, how tall are you?
If anything I'd say a little bit above 6-foot-8.

What have your goals been for this camp? Obviously you earned the starting tight end job so you must be doing something right, but were there any small details you wanted to shore up in camp?
Blocking, there's just so many different things for blocking. First step, second step, hand placement, so I think all the small details with that and for me just getting comfortable mentally with the playbook.

On the subject of blocking, Coach Harbaugh often says that your height can either be an asset, or can be detrimental in the blocking game if you don't get leverage. What have you been doing to try to get lower and get more leverage on a consistent basis?
Just right from the start, pad levels, you just have to bend your legs, that's where it all comes from. You hear it a lot you can't be a waist-bender and that's definitely true. For me, you have to bend your legs just like anyone else.

How do you think you'll be featured in this offense? Obviously you're the starting tight end, but you seem like with your height and wingspan you could be an especially imposing red zone target.
I'm just here to do whatever they ask me to do. Whether that's blocking or splitting me out, or in the red zone, whatever it is they ask, I'm doing whatever the coach says.

Have you been particularly impressed with any of the freshmen you've worked out with in the tight end or wide receiving group?
All the freshman have definitely been stepping it up. I've been impressed mostly mentally they're coming in here and learning on the fly and they've been able to pick up the offensive and defensive scheme. I know they're both really complicated, and I think all the freshman have been doing a good job with that.

Health aside, how different is it entering your second year here at Stanford from your first?
I think just that comfort level is what has been the biggest thing for me. Getting comfortable with the team, trusting one another and getting comfortable out there, just that connection that you build in the huddle, and like I said, that extra year of being in the offense and learning the system has definitely been a big help.

Post-Practice with Corey Gatewood

When was the first day you switched to offense?
I think it was Wednesday or Thursday.

How did all that get going?
It was pretty interesting. We had quite a few injuries out at receiver and I was definitely starting with the cornerbacks but the receivers were banged up, and I'm trying to help the team in any way I can. The move to wideout was pretty much for the team, putting the team first, so I'm trying to make the most of it.

In high school did you go both ways, play some corner and receiver?
Yeah, in high school I played a little cornerback, a little safety, a little running back, a little receiver. I was all over the place.

Right, and a few years ago you also saw time at running back, but how hard has that adjustment been from playing in the defensive backfield for several years to all of a sudden playing offense?
It's definitely an adjustment with the playbook. It's a lot more complicated than it is in any high school offense, but I've had Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin, Pep [Hamilton], [Aaron] Morehead; they're definitely great additions to the offense that help me understand it, and they help me with the offensive scheme and the concepts.

How beneficial was it to spend a few years in the shoes of a defensive back learning that position and now maybe using some of that knowledge to help you at receiver?
Definitely. We had Coach White here and Coach Mason that coached us up on defensive back techniques and trying to stop the offense, so coming to the offensive side of the ball definitely helps knowing what they're trying to do. And like I was saying before, Ryan and Doug helping me with techniques that wideouts use to get past the cornerbacks.

Whose idea was it for you to make this switch?
It was a combination of the coaches and myself, we both agreed that it would be a good move, and I'm trying to make the most of it.

How has it been going the first few days?
I just have my nose to the grindstone and I'm grinding trying to stay up with the rest of the guys and keep getting help and trying to make plays.

What's the biggest adjustment you've had to make so far?
Just getting the timing down with the quarterbacks. Luck puts the ball on the money, so that helps me just focus on running the routes. I don't have to worry about where the ball is. I know the ball will always be right on the money, but definitely the timing with the quarterbacks is the biggest adjustment.

How do you see your eventual role with the offense?
I'm not really sure. I just come out and practice and they throw me in where they may, but I'm definitely willing to be versatile within the offense to help them out any way I can, whether it's on deep balls, reverses, anything. I'm willing to do anything to help the offense.

Now let's say a few of the banged-up receivers do get healthy and maybe a cornerback or two go down. Is this move to offense a permanent switch for you or is there a consideration to moving back to defensive back if necessary?
Like I said, this move was definitely for the team so if [the receivers] come back and I'm still featured in the offense, I'm definitely going to play my role in the offense, but if the defense needs me I'm willing to go back as well.

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