Kevin Toliver has played his last down in Baton Rouge, and so had right tackle Toby Weathersby.
Toliver, a talented cornerback out of Florida, and Weathersby, a 6-6, 310-pound Houston native, announced plans Monday to forgo their senior seasons at LSU and declare for the NFL draft.
Toliver, a part-time starter during his three seasons with the Tigers, was picked by at least one outlet as a freshman All-American in 2015. He arrived in Baton Rouge as a unanimous five-star prospect out of Trinity Christian in Jacksonville, Florida, evolving into a rookie starter.
His career took somewhat of a dip as a sophomore and junior, as he battled injury and was suspended for a game, but his long, rangy build and his physical man-to-man defense is a draw for professional scouts.
In November in fact, one NFL draft analyst named the 6-3, 205-pound Toliver his “biggest sleeper” among cornerbacks in the 2018 draft. Projections for him range from second to fourth round.
“He has the size, looks exactly what you want,” said Matt Miller, draft analyst for BleacherReport.com.
One NFL scout predicted Toliver as an eventual “solid starter” in the league.
Most felt Weathersby had been leaning to go pro. He started 15 games during an injury-plagued career in Baton Rouge, serving as an 11-game starter this season at right tackle. Projections for Weathersby range from a mid to late round draft selection.
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Toliver and Weathersby join edge rusher Arden Key as LSU underclassmen who have declared for the draft. Key announced his news last week and said Monday his partnership with CAA, an agency that represents numerous NFL players.
Toliver and Key won't be the only juniors to leave early. Cornerback Donte Jackson and running back Derrius Guice are expected to join them. Offensive linemen Will Clapp and Garrett Brumfield submitted requests for draft grades, a sign they're at least contemplating an early departure.
Toliver’s departure somewhat leaves LSU in a sticky position at cornerback, a spot with little depth. Rising sophomore Greedy Williams, the SEC’s interception leader, returns to man one side of the field, but experience is lacking behind him. Rising sophomores Jontre Kirklin and Kary Vincent, both 2017 signees, saw limited playing time last year, and Kristian Fulton, a reserve player as a freshman in 2016, took a redshirt this season for off-the-field reasons.
Xavier Lewis, a rotational player at cornerback and safety, did not dress out for at least the last month of the 2017 season. His status with the program is uncertain. The Tigers did not sign a cornerback in the early signing period but are targeting the position for the traditional national signing day. LSU has three open spots in the 2018 class, and the Tigers nabbed safety Kelvin Joseph's commitment last week.
Coaches prepared for Weathersby's departure, signing four offensive linemen during the early period last month, including two junior college prospects enrolling in school this week in tackle Badara Traore and guard Damien Lewis. The line is already losing senior starter KJ Malone.
Toliver’s departure is somewhat expected. Coach Ed Orgeron suggested during the season Toliver and Jackson would not return. Toliver finished his career with 2 interceptions and 84 tackles.
After an eight-start freshman season, he started five games in each of his sophomore and junior seasons. His playing time waned late in 2017. He played fewer than a dozen plays at cornerback in the Citrus Bowl loss to Notre Dame, a somewhat surprising reduction.
Toliver spent much of the season rotating in with starting cornerbacks Jackson and Williams, serving as the No. 3 cornerback in the team’s five-DB nickel defense. He even started a few games as Jackson shifted some to safety. LSU played mostly its base 3-4 defense against the Irish, a potential reason for Toliver’s lack of playing time.
It’s been real folks much love and God bless! pic.twitter.com/YmB2yF9AKU— Toby Weathersby (@_weathersby66) January 9, 2018
ATLANTA — Dear college sports world,
It’s been real✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/jnhAGrqNOH— KT2 (@Kevintoliver2) January 8, 2018