Toon's Toe Out of Touch

Wisconsin's top receiving target a season ago, junior Nick Toon has a turf toe injury that held him out of his first collegiate game last week. With UW's toughest non-conference match-up two days away, Toon's toe still isn't responding.

MADISON - Through the weeks of fall camp, Nick Toon and Scott Tolzien simply couldn't miss. On the same page due to the amount of work they had put in over the offseason, every pass Tolzien threw in Toon's direction, the junior from Middleton seemingly used his 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame to make one-handed catches, leaping catches and, most importantly, effortless catches.

How fortunes have changed in two short weeks.

Toon, arguably UW's No.1 receiver entering the season with 1,116 career receiving yards, missed his first game since high school when he was sidelined against San Jose State after suffering a right turf toe injury and, by his own admission, doesn't believe he'll be healthy enough to play against Arizona State.

"It's a slow-healing injury," admitted Toon, who has yet to practice this week. "I am just taking it day by day and hopefully, get back out there as soon as possible. If I'm ready, I'm ready. If not, I'll have to be out there next week."

Turf toe is categorized in the medical dictionary as, ‘a very vigorous upward bending of the big toe … The shoe grips hard on the surface and sticks causing bodyweight to go forward and so bending the toe up.'

The injury occurred in the second series of the opener when Toon – who caught four passes for 54 yards – made a catch along the sideline and a UNLV player landed on the back of his leg.

Calling it a freak injury, Toon puts some of the blame on his toe and not being able to run at full strength as one of the main reasons he was caught from behind and stripped at the UNLV 5, resulting in an 82-yard fumble return that set up the Rebels second score.

"I didn't start out like I wanted to," said Toon, who caught 54 passes last year for 805 yards and four touchdowns. "It's part of the game to play hurt."

As challenging as it was to deal with the miscue, Toon was more frustrated for not being able to make amends for it the following Saturday, forcing instead to sit on the fumble for at least another week.

"I felt sick to my stomach coming out of the tunnel and not being suited up," Toon said. "It's definitely not a good feeling. You obviously don't want to come back too soon and have it be a reoccurring thing throughout the season."

The training staff has been giving Toon daily massage and laser treatments to try and decrease the acute pain, as well as going through ice and ultrasound treatments to try and limit the swelling.

"The recovery process isn't fun … but it is what it is," Toon said. "I am doing everything that I can do.

"Physically, I can't go right now. I want to be out there. I hate sitting and watching. As soon as I am physically able to play and practice, I'll be out there."

This year was supposed to be a renaissance of sorts for Toon. Last spring, he came in to Head Coach Bret Bielema's office to grab a piece of bubble gum out of the candy jar on the coach's desk. With a big smile on his face, Toon told Bielema that he just finished his best semester at Wisconsin, finishing with a grade point average of over 3.5.

That success had carried over into fall camp, and is a main reason Wisconsin will be thin on Saturday without its confident receiver. The Badgers are also expecting to be without senior David Gilreath who suffered a concussion after being knocked unconscious during a punt return against San Jose State. Gilreath was taken off the field by ambulance and released later in the day from an area hospital.

Gilreath is not listed on the depth chart and would have to prove to the UW medical staff to be free of any post-concussion symptoms. If he can't, senior Isaac Anderson and redshirt freshman Jared Abbrederis would be the starters, a group Toon has complete faith in, despite the lack of production on the resume.

"We've got to work with what we have," Toon said. "I have full confidence in Jared, Isaac and the rest of the guys that are out there. They are able to get the job done (and) I'll think they'll be fine. When the guys Scott has spent the majority of time working with last year as well as the majority of camp, it makes it difficult.

"We just got to play with what we got and try to get everyone healthy and get back rolling."

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