Football is played and won in the trenches.
Big, and powerful linemen on both sides of the field help dictate whether a team will succeed or fail on any given Sunday. The efficiency of an all-powerful offense starts and finishes with the offensive line.
Center Jon Toth isn’t like any of the other offensive linemen entering the NFL Draft this year. Toth knows what he personally excels at, and to put it simply, gives his all every time he steps foot on the field. The 6’5″ offensive linemen played a key role in Kentucky’s success during his time at the college. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the former Kentucky offensive linemen, as he takes his next steps towards becoming a professional athlete in the National Football League.
Tyler: As well as you did at the Senior Bowl, and the Combine, what can you look forward to improving on as you embark on your journey towards the NFL?
Jon: I think three things that I’m mainly focusing on right now is general run blocking technique, and the footwork that goes along with that, the snap, the step speed is important, just getting your feet in the ground. Centers have an advantage because they know the snap count, and they’re the ones snapping the ball, so being able to get off the ball before anyone else is, you have to use that to your advantage. Incorporating both hands in my snap, it’s always good to work the other hand just in case something were to happen, but just working on those three things.
Tyler: Are there any current offensive linemen you mirror yourself after?
Jon: I wouldn’t say necessarily mirror, I try to take what I think they do well, and excel at, and try to incorporate that into my game. The three guys I watch are Ryan Kalil, who plays for the Panthers, Maurkice Pouncey, who plays for the Steelers, and Corey Linsley, who plays for the Packers. Last season I watched a lot of them.
Tyler: Do you have any personal relationships with active or retired NFL lineman, anyone that you look up to?
Jon: I look up to a lot of guys, I don’t have any personal relationships with any of those three that I mentioned, but I definitely look up to them. Another guy that I look up to is Matt Paradis, he’s with Vaner Sports who I’m with right now. He helped me through this process, and was put out there as a resource for me when I was trying to make my decision, and just someone I could talk to, to help guide me through this process. Jeff Saturday as well, I got in contact with him, and he was helpful in the process as well. But those five guys.
Tyler: Anything that personally stands out about yourself as an offensive lineman that you want the NFL and teams to be aware of?
Jon: I think my two biggest distinguishing factors are my football intelligence, I’m good when it comes to I think learning the scheme and being able to apply the scheme in different scenarios that arise throughout the course of a game, and being able to adjust on the fly. That comes through understanding of the playbook and stuff like that, which obviously is going to take time no matter where you go to learn the new system, and get used to it with all the different nuances. I think I’m above average at being able to come in, and learn a playbook, and learn a system. And to go along with that I think on the field, my hands, I utilize those pretty well when it comes to pass blocking, and run blocking as well.
Tyler: Anything you’re personally looking forward to as you transition into the next level?
Jon: I would say the biggest thing is just being a professional, and being able to have a more direct say in what I’m going to do in terms of training. Just being able to dedicate all my time to football. Not that school isn’t great. You can’t focus 100% on football, but being a professional, and making a transition into the next level you get a lot more opportunity.
Tyler: How would you say you stay focused, and committed during your everyday life as far as football goes?
Jon: I think a huge part of that is discipline, cutting out or minimizing distractions as much as possible. Another big thing is just having a clear plan laid out for maybe a week or how ever long you’re training, or just day to day. Just having something clear when you wake up, knowing exactly what you want to do, what you want to accomplish that day then just going out and accomplishing it. Not dilly-dallying when you’re doing it, getting it done so you’re efficient with your time, you put the work in, so you can do something else.
Tyler: Offensive lines can help make or break teams. If you look at the Dallas Cowboys’ team last year and their ferocious offensive line, or for instance the team I cover, the New Orleans Saints had a pretty efficient offensive line. What do you personally bring to an offensive line that is looking to improve?
Jon: I think just the characteristics I embody as a player, and as a person, my smartness, my toughness, my willingness to work hard, and then I also just bring the general key player mentalities.
The offensive line is a brotherhood, and I think that’s why those offensive lines (referring to Dallas, and New Orleans), were so special this past season, especially the Cowboys, were the ones I saw the most. As a spectator we don’t get to see what happens beyond closed doors, but I guarantee they had a great relationship off the field, and they had each others back. That translates to the field because they communicate probably really well, and they obviously really played good technique wise. I just think my ability to be in it for the team, and not be selfish is a thing as well.
Tyler: What has inspired you to get this far?
Jon: Obviously it was a dream, when you’re younger, when you see these NFL guys, and you’re like wow. *Chuckles* That’d be awesome to be at the highest level of what you do, but I think just the commitment to just working every day is what gives you to that point.
Tyler: What has been your motivation to continue trying, continue playing?
Jon: My motivation is just, I love to work, I just enjoy the whole process, I enjoy the game really, the strategy of it. It’s a very unique game, and I just love the competitiveness of it. Obviously, professional football is the pinnacle of football. And just being able to get to that height, and eventually once I get there, to try and succeed, and be successful, and leave my mark is what motivates me to keep on pushing.
Tyler: What would you say to the people who are trying to achieve their dreams, similar to how you are now?
Jon: I would say you have to decide whether you really want to do something, or whether you really want to make it to the next level, whatever level you are at. If you’re really committed there really shouldn’t be many things that are able to knock you off your path, and distract you. I would say create goals, and strive to achieve them, once you achieve them set a new goal, and that you’ll eventually step your way, and make those stepping stones, and get your way to your final goal whatever that is.
Jon Toth is an offensive lineman with the versatility and athleticism to be a key piece in any offense in the NFL. He provides key aspects through his physical and mental strength which I think will allow Toth to thrive in just about any scheme he desires.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Jon Toth and wish him the best of luck as he transitions into the next part of his life and career.