Tolbert KnowsPublished 9:55am Friday, August 23, 2013
C.J. Tolbert makes it look effortless.
When he’s pulling away from defenders on his way to the end zone, he looks like he’s jogging while those after him are in a full-on sprint.
When he delivers a deep ball that falls into the hands of a Dadeville Tigers’ receiver, his throwing motion is smooth.
The Tigers’ leading rusher from last season has a new task ahead of him: directing a high-powered offense toward Tuscaloosa.
But he’s been ready for this for more than a year.
“Last year, I was also the backup quarterback so it hasn’t been a big change,” Tolbert said. “It’s been pretty easy, to tell you the truth.”
While Tolbert has made his transition without a challenge, he knows that the season will be anything but for the Dadeville Tigers.
That motivates the Tigers’ athletic dynamo to continue to work on his game. He also takes what he has learned from other sports and applied them to the gridiron.
“I come out here on Sundays to do agility drills and work on improving my 40 time,” Tolbert said. “Basketball and baseball has helped with my agility and my ability to stop and start. It’s also helped with my hand-eye coordination.”
Granted, Tolbert already runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, but it’s this kind of dedication to improvement that has him poised to lead the Tigers.
But don’t think he’s forgotten about his responsibilities as quarterback. After all, the position change has been coming for some time.
“I’ve been working on my accuracy since last year,” Tolbert said. “Ever since I was a freshman, I’ve been able to throw the ball pretty well. When I come out here, I go through our drills with the intention of becoming more accurate every day.”
With his combination of speed, arm and smarts – Tolbert maintains a 3.8 GPA – Tolbert is prepared to take over Class 4A football while spearheading the Tigers’ charge to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In doing so, he hopes to mold his game after Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“If I had to describe my game, I’d say I want to play like RG3,” Tolbert said. “He’s got a good arm and good speed. That’s who I base my play style on.”
If that’s the case, then Tolbert is probably going to make a college very happy. He’s already drawn interest from Georgia Tech, Auburn, Missouri and Georgia State.
However, Tolbert is locked onto the current task. He said a lack of focus doomed the team last year and he, along with the other leaders on the Tigers’ team, is determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We have to keep up our intensity and not get ahead of ourselves,” Tolbert said. “We can’t get a big head every week. We need to come out here and compete because we know we’re going to go deep in the playoffs but we have to give it all we’ve got. Last year, we didn’t make it far because we got ahead of ourselves, and we didn’t take it as seriously as we should have. We’re trying to teach the younger guys to keep their minds straight.”
In addition to building a patient mindset in practice, Tolbert said he plans to direct the Tigers’ explosive offense with similar stoicism.
“Whatever the defense gives us, that’s what we’ll take,” he said. “We can throw the deep ball, we can work the quick passing game. Whatever they throw at us, we’ve got something to work around it.”
If the Tigers are able to do that, then the team can accomplish the one objective Tolbert has laid out for them.
“I’m not looking at individual goals,” he said. “I’ve set one goal and it’s a team goal: to win the state championship.”
Tolbert knows the team has what it takes, but he knows what he’s doing on the field of play, too.
He knows football. An All-State second baseman last season, he knows baseball.
He knows basketball, being slated to start at point guard for the Tigers later this year.
No matter the sport, Tolbert knows it, and he knows how to be good at it.
This season, the Tigers’ opponents find out just how good he can be.
See The Outlook throughout the month of August for player profiles of The Outlook’s Super 12 team leading to the kickoff of the 2013 season.