Aug. 29, 2003
The tradition of outstanding tight ends at Washington is legendary - particularly in the war rooms of NFL teams on draft day. Since 1992, five Husky tight ends have been selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft - including first-rounders Mark Bruener (1995) and Jerramy Stevens (2002) - and two more have found success as free-agent signees. Expectations, thus, are high for any player to line up at tight end for Washington, and no less for sophomore Joe Toledo, who will likely enter Saturday's game at Ohio State as the Huskies' No. 1 at tight end for the first time. GoHuskies.com correspondent Mason Kelley talked to Toledo this week about the matchup with the Buckeyes, and Toledo's own expectations for himself and his team.
GoHuskies.com: What is it going to be like playing at Ohio State?
Joe Toledo: "Obviously, they are a big, physical team and I am looking forward to the challenge."
GH: How are you reacting to the absence of Maurice Clarett?
Toledo: "Well, it doesn't affect me too much, coming from the offensive side of the ball. I think our defense might be a little bit disappointed because they don't get the chance to play against him. I am sure they have a lot of great backs behind him, though."
GH: How does it feel to be taking a more prominent role this year?
Toledo: "I am a little bit more excited. Last year I was used primarily as a blocker, so it will be nice to get out there and catch some balls and make things happen."
GH: How do you try to live up the tradition of great Washington tight ends?
Toledo: "I am confident in myself. I am confident in the way I can play. I am still a young guy; it is only my sophomore year. There are definitely some big shoes to fill, but I think I am up for it."
GH: What is it like to catch passes from Cody Pickett?
Toledo: "He is one of the best in the country. You know you are going to get your balls. You know he is going to put them where you want them."
GH: Is it cool to be catching passes from a guy considered by many to be a Heisman candidate?
Toledo: "That is not really on your mind. Cody is just another one of the guys on the team. You don't really think about it until you look at all the magazines. He is a great quarterback and it is great to catch passes from him."
GH: How has your recovery from off-season shoulder surgery gone?
Toledo: "It is doing well. It is probably about 99 percent. The strength aspect of it is not all the way back. It feels good out there blocking; I feel confident and it isn't a big factor."
GH: What has been your favorite moment during your Husky career?
Toledo: "Beating Oregon at Oregon last year was fun; going in there and taking it to them."
GH: What do you consider the best play of your career?
Toledo: "I had a big block last year in the Michigan game, on the play Rich (Alexis) broke for 59 yards. That has been my best play."
GH: So your dad's really in the Secret Service? That's cool!
Toledo: "It is cool. He's been able to meet a few presidents and foreign dignitaries. It has been a cool experience for him.
GH: Does he get to do anything top-secret?
Toledo: "I don't really know if he does or not. He hasn't ever told me anything top-secret - probably because it's top-secret."
GH: If you weren't playing football, what would you be doing?
Toledo: "Right now, I would probably be in my hometown of San Diego, going to school down there somewhere and hanging out on the beach."
GH: Why did you come to UW?
Toledo: "The coaching staff. Keith Gilbertson was the tight ends coach when I came here. They have had great tight ends here in the past. Since I have been here, Kevin Ware and Jerramy Stevens really helped me out. It is a really big family here and I just like the atmosphere."
GH: What is your favorite thing to do when not playing football?
Toledo: "Just chilling, relaxing, and hanging out with the boys."
GH: What is your best quality?
Toledo: "On the field, I'm a really aggressive guy, but off the field I am just a laid-back guy that likes to get to know people."
GH: Where will the Huskies be at the end of the season?
Toledo: "Hopefully we will be in the Rose Bowl. We have worked really hard this off-season. Last year was a real disappointment to all of us and coming out and winning this first game is a real key. If we continue to work hard and get better each week, hopefully we will end up in the Rose Bowl."
GH: What are your personal goals for this season?
Toledo: "Really, I just want to see our team win. People ask me how many balls I want to catch, but we have two great receivers in Reggie Williams and E.T. (Charles Frederick). I have go to get my blocking down and if any balls come my way, hopefully I will make some key catches and make some big plays."
GH: Any predictions for Saturday?
Toledo: "It is going to be a good game. That is all I am going to say."