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Blue Collar Approach Has Helped Jon Toth on His Journey to the NFL

Former Kentucky center Jon Toth knows the blue collar mentality has him ready for the NFL.

When it comes to the NFL, some of the most solid players currently in the league are the ones who didn’t bask in the limelight during the draft process. Considered one of the top options at centers by many draft analysts, former Kentucky center Jon Toth does not receive a ton of attention from casual fans but for those in the know, he is a highly lauded prospect. A four-year starter for the Wildcats, Toth was a staple on the interior of the offense and, in over 1,300+ pass plays, only allowed 4 sacks and 5 quarterback hits. 

Toth graduated in December of 2016 with a Mechanical Engineering degree, successful at juggling the life as a student athlete after being well-prepared by his parents throughout his upbringing. Jon Toth and Stacy Reifeis, his parents, pushed the younger Toth, who was fluent in Spanish by the time he finished high school. 

“They have always been supportive in what I have done on and off the field,” Toth said of his parents. “They are the main reason why I challenged myself so hard in school as well as trying to excel in football.”

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Toth was part of a Kentucky program that has seen a gradual rise since the arrival of head coach Mark Stoops and the experience helped Toth reach the next level. Being part of a culture change brought on by Stoops, Toth was depended on to be an example and a leader from the offensive line. 

“Being the older guy that has been through it a little more, guys naturally look at you and how you do things,” Toth explained. 

The blue collar approach instilled by Stoops involved constant work on the field and in the classroom, but the philosophy helped build the foundation for what Toth explained was the extra push he needed to make the jump to the NFL. 

“That daily commitment to getting better and working hard and getting yourself where you can compete at a high level is something I focused on every day,” Toth explained. “Along with the coaching staff pushing me to be a better person and player that ultimately propelled me to get to the level I am today, to have an opportunity.” 

That opportunity led to Toth graduating on time and leaving after the football season ended to focus and prepare for the NFL. The Indianapolis native had the NFL combine in the back of his mind, wanting to be part of something he has seen over the years as a kid. 

With no homework and football practice, Toth found time on his schedule to fine-tune his craft. 

“It wasn’t that tough,” Toth said of leaving Kentucky. “It is definitely a different environment, leaving the school atmosphere and training. Not going to class every day it is different, you have a lot of time on your hands to do things.”

Coming from a spread offense at Kentucky, Toth knew what he had to prepare to impress NFL teams: improve his run blocking on the second level, learn pro-style offenses better, and, being a left-handed snapper, learn to snap with his right hand, just in case. 

Participating in the Senior Bowl, Toth knew he had to put in even more work to get the coaches' attention but it was a lime said by a speaker to the players during the Senior Bowl that Toth remembers the most.

“It is not how you get in the door, it is how you break through it and stay in the league. Everyone has to make a team and earn their keep,” Toth said of the message he heard. 

He has kept that message close to him and it meant even more when he was able to return home after receiving an email from the NFL with his invite to the NFL Combine. 

"It was something I was definitely looking forward to a lot just because it is in Indy every year,” Toth said of his invite to the NFL Combine. “I am from Indy. You see all these guys all these years coming through going to the combine.” 

In what Toth described as a surreal moment, he opened the email, it became even more of reality hit him. He was getting the chance to get himself in front of NFL personnel and he was going to give it his all to make the most of this opportunity. 

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After all of the interviews and on-field work, Toth left the combine focused on improving his 40 time, vertical and L-drill at his pro day. The only issue was that the Kentucky pro day was a four day turnaround after the combine, which did not leave much time to work on improving his workout scores. Toth knew it would be tough but felt he could make a solid impact with on field drills to show that his movement skills translate well to the football field. 

“I gave it a shot and improved my vertical and, more than anything, I wanted to show that I could play football,” Toth said of his pro day. “That is better demonstrated in the field drills, which I think I did.”

The hard part is over for Toth and now he waits for the NFL Draft, but not before he takes some visits and private workouts for teams. Toth gave his plan on how to stay prepared for these interviews with NFL teams.  

“Stay sharp on all your football knowledge, knowledge of the game, and your own playbook because they like to quiz you on that. Stay sharp in terms of that.” 

There is no resting for Toth because he knows that a NFL team is waiting on him and with all his focus on what he can control until he gets his named called and learns where his new home will be. 

“It is grind mode and haven’t really want to sit down a relax,” Toth said of the wait. “Everyone wants to get drafted and I have high hopes and expectations that I will get drafted.” 

Toth has been a lifelong Colts fan since growing up there through his childhood but now his favorite team will be the one that calls him on draft day.  

“At the end of the day, as long as I end up somewhere, I am going to put my best foot forward do what I have to do to make a team and make a difference in an organization.”

Related Articles: Texans Notebook: Texans Hitting the Pro-Day Circuit  | Texans 2017 NFL Draft Prospect List | Tony Romo Says the Texans were on Top of His List Texans Direction Doesn't Change Without Tony Romo

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