New Toon commits to UW

Middleton wide receiver prospect becomes Badgers' first verbal for class of 2007

The name will certainly ring a bell with Badger fans. And according to Middleton (Wis.) High School head coach Tim Simon, the athlete's play on the field also bears a striking resemblance to his famous father's.

Nick Toon, however, clearly can stand on his own merits, regardless of his Badger bloodlines.

Toon verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin football program Thursday, becoming the Badgers' first class of 2007 commitment. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver was a second-team All-Big Eight Conference choice last season after catching 26 passes for 425 yards as a junior.

Toon's father, of course, is former Wisconsin and NFL great Al Toon. The elder Toon finished his UW career as the school's all-time leader in receptions (131), receiving yards (2,103) and receiving touchdowns (19). He currently stands third in the Badger annals on those three lists.

"(Nick) probably will be (compared to Al Toon) and it's too bad," Simon said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "His dad obviously was a pretty good football player, a pretty good athlete. Nick is a very good athlete in his own right so hopefully we'll just (let) Nick's actions speak for himself."

The 2005 campaign was Nick Toon's first playing varsity football at Middleton. He was the Cardinals' flanker but also had 15 returns for 345 yards and was the first-team all-conference return specialist. He ran the ball four times for 57 yards.

Expect Toon's role on the gridiron to expand when his senior season commences.

"I think this year we'll be asking more of Nick at different positions on offense and defense because he's that good of an athlete and he's that versatile that we can do more than just line him up at wide receiver," Simon said. "I think we can move him around pretty easily because he's an intelligent kid, really coachable and we want to get him the football in a few different ways this year."

Joining Toon on the second-team all-conference offense were Middleton teammates tight end Ross Hellenbrand and wide receiver Alex Kracht.

"We had some real quality wide receivers this year and a pretty good tight end," Simon said. "So we didn't (have) to move (Nick) around a lot."

Middleton also boasted a first-team all-conference running back in Noah Stoltz. All three of those complements, however, were seniors in 2005, and Toon is ready for more responsibility.

"He's getting much stronger, faster, he's got one year of varsity under his belt," Simon said. "I think we can do a few different things with him….

"I don't think lining him up at tight end or running back is out of the question. And I think we'll be able to play him on the defensive side of the ball as well. He could have last year, but what we try to do in our program is try to give juniors one side of the ball to focus on. And then as seniors if we think we can ask more out of them we do, and we certainly would be able to ask more out of Nick.

"Whether it's punt returns, kick returns, defensive back, lining him up at receiver, lining him up at tight end, throwing him in the backfield once in a while. He's that good of an athlete and he's that versatile that we can easily do that with him this year."

A good all-around athlete, Toon qualified for the state track meet as a sophomore last spring in the triple jump and was part of Middleton's state qualifying 400- and 800-meter relay teams.

His athleticism is part of what draws comparisons back to his father.

"You watch Nick, whether its running on the track… or playing football; his natural athletic ability and the way he runs, jumps and catches everything," Simon said. "He's just got soft hands like his father does. He has the instincts for football—that instinct to run and play the game are a lot like his dad's."

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