April 9, 2014
Auburn linebacker Cameron Toney says he expects to make an impact as a redshirt freshman
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - For Auburn linebacker Cameron Toney, it was the hardest year of his athletic life. For the first time, he was a watcher and not a player. As Auburn raced toward the BCS Championship Game last season, he could offer only moral support.
Such is the life of a redshirt.
"Probably the toughest thing I've been through," Toney said.
Toney signed with Auburn out of Huntsville High School in 2013. He believed he could play early, but a high ankle sprain suffered his senior year in high school continued to plague him. It soon became obvious that he would not play as a freshman.
"Just sitting on the sideline and watching the game and knowing I can't play was really difficult for me," Toney said. "It really told me I needed to get better and work on a lot of things. It was tough to watch those great games, and I wasn't playing."
Away from the cheering crowds, Toney worked hard to make sure he was ready when his time came. He got bigger, stronger and faster. At 6-foot-1, 243 pounds, he looked the part of a Southeastern Conference linebacker. On the field, he quickly showed he was ready to compete.
"I think I've gotten a lot better," Toney said. "I think I've proved a lot. I've been rotating with the ones, so I think I've been doing great. It means a lot to me. It means the coaches have their eyes on me and are really expecting a lot out of me. I believe I can make a great impact on the team."
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says Toney has made significant progress.
"He's had a really solid spring," Johnson said. "He's caught on pretty well to what we're doing. He's a guy that plays faster than he measures."
Toney says Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost, the projected starters at linebacker, have been there to help him from the start.
"They are great leaders," Toney said. "I look up to them. When I came here, they basically told me what I was going to go through. I'm in great position to help those guys out this year."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: