The Auburn Tigers placed a big focus early on linebacker in the 2013 recruiting cycle and landed two huge commitments from Reuben Foster and Trey Johnson during the process.
Mixed in with those commitments was a pledge from linebacker Cameron Toney. Even when coaching changes came and Foster and Johnson jumped ship, Toney stuck with his commitment. He may not have the star power of the other two, but Toney is the steal of the 2013 class for Auburn.
Toney was rated as a consensus 3-star recruit according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
The Tigers needs at linebacker were lowered a bit with the hiring of Ellis Johnson and his 4-2-5 scheme, but the need for a big-bodied, inside attacker was still a focus. Toney is that guy for the Tigers.
His impact may not come as a starter on defense this year with Cassanova McKinzy, Kris Frost and others ready to step in as the playmakers, but he will be able to pull some snaps in a reserve role.
Toney is one of the few commits with a large enough frame to hold down the middle of the field with only one other linebacker to assist against the run.
He is a sizable linebacker that will hit Auburn this summer at 6’2”, 225 pounds.He has a frame that will fill out in college, and he could play comfortably around 240 pounds.
When watching his game, it's clear he isn’t a prototypical defender for the inside linebacker position, but he isn’t fast enough to play on the outside.
Toney will be the perfect fit in Johnson's 4-2-5 defense. He's very good against the run, reading offensive flow better than most linebackers in this class. He's also is a solid gap filler and is very aggressive when engaged by blockers.
At this point, he struggles to shed blockers that carry more size, but as he grows into his frame that will become less of a concern. What's important is that he's quick off the ball and closes gaps well against outside runs. He also chooses his lanes carefully when splitting blockers while approaching the ball carrier.
Toney will be an immediate help for the Tigers on special teams, but it may take a year to get him into the playing rotation. As he learns the defense and adds bulk, it will be impossible to keep him on the sideline.
Auburn needed to find a player that would bring a solid work ethic and lunch pail mentality to the linebacker position. They found it in Toney. He is the overlooked steal in this class for the Tigers.
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