Stanford’s Toohill learns why the Campbell Trophy is special

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By Ana Kieu

During the Stanford Cardinal bye week, Casey Toohill received a book from his girlfriend called “Trillion Dollar Coach” by Eric Schmidt. The fifth-year senior outside linebacker dug in immediately.

A New York Times and Wall Street Journal #1 bestseller, the book chronicles the life of late Bay Area businessman Bill Campbell, who played football at Columbia and came west to become VP of Marketing and board director for Apple Inc. and CEO of Claris, Intuit and GO Corporation.

A mentor to many CEO’s in Silicon Valley, Campbell also became chairman of the board at Columbia and cherished character, leadership and academics. In 1990, the NFF recognized the first William V. Campbell Trophy recipient, awarded to the top student-athlete in college football. Nominees must be seniors in their final year of eligibility and maintain at least a 3.20 GPA.

Last week, Toohill was selected one of 12 NFF National Scholar-Athlete finalists from an initial list of 185 semifinalists. The San Diego native carries a 3.71 GPA in political science and will earn his degree in December. He’s a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree and was selected CoSIDA Academic All-District in 2017.

As a finalist, Toohill will earn an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and travel to New York on December 10 for the NFF Awards Dinner, when the overall winner will be announced and receive a $25,000 scholarship.

“Obviously, Mr. Campbell was a legend,” said Toohill. “Hearing people’s stories about their interaction with him and what he meant to them makes me honored to even be considered for the award. He made such an impact on so many lives, and it’s something I strive to do.”

In August, the annual Campbell Summit was held at Stanford, bringing together finalists from previous years for lectures, group discussions and visits to Bay Area companies. Toohill attended several functions after practice.

“The number of thoughtful and successful individuals there really stood out to me,” Toohill said. “I sat in on a few of the lectures and it was all these impressive people from the business world. I was just blown away.”

Toohill quickly realized the significance of the award.

“The amount of respect and admiration people had for Mr. Campbell struck me from the start,” he said.

Toohill leads the Cardinal in tackles (45), sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (7.5), quarterback hurries (9) and has forced one fumble. His sack total ranks third in the Pac-12 and he’s tied for fifth in tackles for loss.

Voted a team captain, Toohill hopes to play pro football and attend business school, with an eye on nonprofit work.

“From the moment he got here, he’s been a high-effort, try-to-do-everything-right, pour-himself-into-everything-he-does guy,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “That’s how he was raised and who he is. So, it’s not a surprise he’s on that list.”

Shaw believes strongly that every student-athlete in the country should strive for excellence in sports and academics. Toohill has done that and developed into a respected team leader.

“This recognition is very significant and very well deserved,” Shaw said. “Casey is energetic, positive and focused. Nothing would make us happier than for him to win that award.”

INJURY UPDATE
Senior quarterback K.J. Costello has looked good in practice this week and will start for the second consecutive game on Saturday, when Stanford (4-4, 3-3 Pac-12) travels to Colorado (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) for a 12 pm PT kickoff. Junior backup Davis Mills practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and will make the trip, but his availability has yet to be determined. Senior inside linebacker Curtis Robinson is doubtful, but could return next week against Washington State.

WELCOME WEEK
Stanford coaches and players said the bye week came at a good time.

“It was more a shutoff and recovery time,” said senior defensive tackle Michael Williams. “At the end of the week, we started watching Colorado film and a little bit of us. It was more relax, recover and get ready for this last four-game stretch.”

The coaching staff also got a break, but most, including Shaw, hit the recruiting trail.

Shaw was able to watch Stanford alum Christian McCaffrey play against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

RESILIENCE
Shaw’s biggest takeaways on the season so far are the number of injuries his team has sustained, but also the justification of the program’s recruiting.

“I say that because a lot of teams would not be able to handle what we’ve had to handle this year,” Shaw said. “Whether it’s a depth standpoint and to be able to put three freshmen on the offensive line and start a freshman at nickel and corner and be able to perform. To be able to have 105 players pulling in the same direction when you lose three games in a row and still come together.”

Shaw praised his players for hanging tough through tough times.

“There’s going to be times when things are difficult,” Shaw said. “I can’t say enough about the people we have in our locker room that are fiery, energetic, passionate and want to go out and play together and win. They have each other’s backs.”

SCOUTING COLORADO
Colorado enters with a five-game losing streak but is talented on both sides of the ball and tough at home.

Offensively, the Buffaloes mix pass and run and have a heady and mobile quarterback in senior Steven Montez.

“He doesn’t panic,” said Shaw.

Montez has explosive wide receivers in junior Laviska Shenault and senior Tony Brown, who have combined for 85 catches for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns.

Shaw called Shenault one of the top receivers in the country.

“Everybody in the secondary has to know where that guy is on every play,” said Shaw. “He’s one of the best in America at what he does. We have to recognize that and make sure we keep him in front of us and bring as many guys to the party as possible and try to get him on the ground.”

IMPROVEMENTΒ 
Williams credits more depth up front for the line’s continued improvement.

“The past couple years, we only had three or four guys to put on the field,” he said. “This year, we throw everybody out there. It’s more being able to throw waves at people and we have more interchangeable parts.”

Williams said a player to watch is senior defensive end Thomas Schaffer, who was born in Vienna, Austria. He is one of six Stanford players who stands 6-foot-7.

“Thomas has gotten very big and very fast,” said Williams. “That’s a grown man out there. His strength and his length … Nobody can deal with that. When he puts his mind to it, he can do anything he wants.”

ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT
Boulder is 5,328 feet above sea level and the higher elevation is an adjustment for most visiting teams.

“There’s really not much you can do,” said Shaw. “Usually, it takes about a quarter-and-a-half.”

Shaw said the most important factor is being mentally prepared. He will substitute as needed to keep players fresh.

“I played at Utah two years ago,” said Williams said. “You get used to it. It’s just football at the end of the day.”

Saturday’s forecast called for sunny skies with a high of 67 degrees and zero chance of rain.

Photo credit: gostanford.com

FAMILIAR FACE
Blake Stenstrom, a redshirt freshman and the backup quarterback for the Buffaloes, has close ties to Stanford. His father, Steve, was a standout quarterback for the Cardinal (1991-94) and still holds many records, including career passing yards (10,911), passing attempts (1,380) and completions (866). He also maintains single-season standards for pass attempts (455) and passing yards (3,627). Stenstrom was inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

Stenstrom’s wife, Lori, was an accomplished swimmer at Stanford. She was a multiple NCAA champion, an American record holder and swam for the U.S. National Team. Their daughter Brooke is currently a senior at Stanford and competes for the women’s swim team. A four-time team captain in high school and at Stanford, she was a member of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 NCAA title squads.

“Steve and I were here at the same time and became really good friends,” said Shaw, who played wide receiver for the Cardinal. “Actually, we met at Stanford Football Camp and came in as freshmen together and became friends. We lived together in suites on the back side of campus our sophomore year and we just had our 25th reunion.

“I remember the pictures when Blake was born. It’s still so weird. We’re at that age where we do doubletakes. When I printed out pictures of guys on the other team (Colorado), I thought, oh my gosh, I still can’t believe he’s in college.”

“Blake is an outstanding human being. He’s very, very smart, and a good football player. I look forward to giving him a hug before and after the game.”

NOTES
Stanford needs two wins to make it to the postseason. “I’m not even thinking about bowl games,” said Shaw. “Our charge is to play our best football.” … Through eight games, 35 Stanford players have started at least one contest … 15 true freshmen have played and seven have started. The latter is the second-most nationally behind Alabama (9) … The Cardinal has utilized five different starting offensive line combinations. Only twice — Oregon State and Washington — has Stanford used the same starting five in consecutive games … Junior cornerback Paulson Adebo is tied for fifth in the FBS with 14 total passes defended. In three October games, he intercepted three passes, had five pass breakups and collected nine tackles … Costello now has 5,906 career passing yards, the ninth-most in school history, and 5,997 yards of total offense, the ninth-most in Stanford history. His 48 career touchdown passes are tied for sixth, and his 477 career completions and 762 attempts are tied for 10th.

QUOTE
“Be calm in the midst of chaos.” — K.J. Costello on playing quarterback.

ICYMI: SJSU’s Love 1 of 83 nominated nationally for Burlsworth Trophy

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

By Ana Kieu

Nationally-ranked San Jose State quarterback Josh Love is one of 83 players nominated for the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy.

The award honors the most outstanding NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) player who began his career as a walk-on and shown outstanding performance on the field.

Love is the only quarterback among this year’s record-number of nominees for the award named after former University of Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman, the late Brandon Burlsworth.

A senior from Mission Viejo, Calif. and co-captain of this year’s Spartan team, Love is one of the country’s most prolific passers. Leading San Jose State to road wins at Arkansas on September 21 and Army West Point on October 26, he is among the top-20 nationally in passing yards per game (5th/310.3), completions per game (12th/22.58), total offense (12th/302.8) and passing yards per completion (20th/13.76).

The two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week this season has thrown for single-season personal bests of 2,793 yards and 17 touchdowns in the Spartans’ first nine games. Love became just the second San Jose State quarterback in school history to record four 400-yard passing games in a season with his 438-yard, two touchdown performance against #21 Boise State on Nov. 2. His four interceptions in 346 pass attempts is a career-low and one of the best interception-to-pass attempt ratios in college football this season.

Love enrolled at San Jose State in 2015 as a non-scholarship player from Long Beach Poly High (Long Beach, Calif.). He was placed on scholarship in August 2016, started one game as a redshirt freshman, five as a sophomore, and eight last year as a junior. Love has started every game for San Jose State in 2019.

“This award is about the journey, the incredibly challenging journey that all of these nominees have taken,” said Marty Burlsworth, CEO and Founder of the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation and older brother of Brandon.

“When you begin your college career as a Walk-On there are plenty of skeptics, those that think you can’t do it. This group of Burlsworth Trophy nominees have proven all the skeptics wrong. They have put in an immense about of work and overcame numerous obstacles to make their dreams come true.”

Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon Burlsworth walked on at the University of Arkansas in 1994. He became a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.

Previous San Jose State nominees include offensive lineman David Quessenberry, a 2012 Burlsworth Trophy finalist, wide receiver, current graduate assistant and school-record setting wide receiver Chandler Jones, wide receiver Tim Crawley, and All-America punter Michael Carrizosa.

Ten semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 12 and three finalists will be named on Nov. 19.

The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, in conjunction with Springdale Rotary Club, will host an awards ceremony on Dec. 9, 2019 in Springdale, Ark. to honor the three finalists and to announce the 2019 winner.

The Burlsworth Trophy is one of 25 nationally-recognized annual football awards recognized by the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA).

SJSU Spartans podcast with Ana Kieu: A much-improved SJSU team vs. Boise State; plus more

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

On the SJSU Spartans podcast with Ana:

1. Football: SJSU lost to Boise State 52-42, but it was a very competitive game.

2. Football: SJSU takes on Hawaii on Saturday, November 9.

3. Men’s soccer: SJSU showed grit in Texas.

4. Women’s soccer: SJSU beat Fresno State 2-1 for a trip to the Mountain West Tournament.

5. Women’s basketball: SJSU began the regular season at UC Irvine.

Ana’s Final Thoughts.

Listen to Ana on the SJSU Spartans podcast each week at http://www.sjsuspartans.com

Headline Sports podcast Pt. 1 with Barbara Mason: Warriors just a bad club or a rebuilding year?; Kings put together two wins in a row; plus more

Photo credit: goldenstateofmind.com

On the Headline Sports podcast with Barbara Mason:

#1 Are the Warriors 2-5 just down on their luck or are they just outright a bad ball club since their offseason mass exodus?

#2 How much would would you allude to the Sacramento Kings’ struggle and their recent two straight wins? Were the wins looked at as encouraging for the Kings?

#3 The Cal Bears opened up their men’s basketball season against Pepperdine tonight at Haas Pavillion. The Bears are looking to have a much better season than they did last year.

#4 The San Francisco 49ers might be facing their toughest challenge this season yet when they host the Seattle Seahawks for Monday Night Football on Nov. 11th at Levis Stadium.

#5 The Oakland Raiders just got by the Detroit Lions with a 31-24 win on a Hunter Renfrow fourth quarter touchdown that help put the Lions away at the Oakland Coliseum.

Headline Sports with Barbara Mason is heard each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Jose State travels to Hawaii for Saturday night football game

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

By Ana Kieu

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose State football shocked the general public with a narrow win over Army and a competitive game against #21 Boise State. So what’s next for the Spartans? The 4-5 team heads to the Aloha state to take on Hawaii on Saturday night.

Fun fact: Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich is from Daly City, Calif. Rolovich attended Marin Catholic High School (Kentfield, Calif.), where he won varsity letters in football and baseball; City College of San Francisco, where he led the Rams to a national championship in 1999; and University of Hawaii, where he served as a two-year letterman and replaced starter and future all-time NCAA career passing leader Timmy Chang in 2001. The 40-year-old was named one of two MVPs from the 2002 Hula Bowl.

Anyhow, here’s what you need to know before Saturday’s game.

Game #10
San Jose State vs. Hawaii
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
Saturday, November 9, 2019, 6:00 p.m. HT
Spectrum Sports/Facebook Live

San Jose State record
4-5, 1-4 Mountain West. Most recently, San Jose State lost to Boise State, 52-42, in a Mountain West game.

Hawaii record
5-4, 2-3 Mountain West. Hawaii lost to Fresno State 41-38, in a conference contest.

Radio
KKSF (910 AM, Oakland), RealTalk 910, is the new flagship radio station for San Jose State Spartans football. Justin Allegri calls the play-by-play. Kevin Richardson provides commentary. The Hawaii broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. PT with a pregame show.

Network affiliates are KION (1460 AM/101.1 FM, Salinas), KFIV (1360 AM, Modesto), KWSX (1280 AM, Stockton).

Television
Spectrum Sports and Facebook will provide broadcast coverage. Robert Kekaula calls the play-by-play. Rich Miano provides commentary. Scott Robbs is the sideline reporter. Broadcast coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. PT.

Series history
Hawaii leads the series, 21-19-1 with one cancellation in 1941. The Rainbow Warriors have won the last three games between these teams including last year’s 44-41 game that lasted five overtimes and is the longest contest based on number of overtime periods for both schools. San Jose State’s last win in the series was a 42-23 victory in 2015 at Aloha Stadium.

Playing for the Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy
Though San Jose State and Hawaii have faced each other in football since 1936, this year’s game marks the first time the two schools are playing for the Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy, named after the late head coach of each team during a 29-year NCAA Division I head coaching career. He passed away on May 10, 2019 in Tucson at age 80.

Tomey’s head coaching record was 183-145-7. His first head coaching position was at Hawaii where his teams from 1977 through 1986 compiled a 63-46-3 win-loss record in 10 seasons. He departed Hawaii for the University of Arizona where his Wildcat teams had a 95-64-4 win-loss record from 1987 through 2000. His third and final head coaching position was at San Jose State during the 2005 through 2009 seasons. The Spartans were 25-35 in those five seasons.

Tomey was the winningest head coach in Hawaii football history at the time of his departure. When he retired from San Jose State, he had more coaching victories in five seasons than any of his predecessors since 1989.

In the San Jose State-Hawaii series as a head coach, Tomey had a 2-5 win-loss record. The Rainbow Warriors were 1-1 against the Spartans in 1977 and 1978. The Spartans were 1-4 during he 2005 through 2009 seasons winning 20-17 at Aloha Stadium in 2008. He also was an assistant coach at Hawaii when San Jose State posted a 28-27 triumph in the 2011 game in San Jose.

Entering the 2019 season, his 183 victories ranked 41st among all head coaches at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. His 335 games as a head coach ranks 19th among all NCAA Division I FBS head coaches.

Another .500 mark, maybe?
San Jose State can be at the .500 mark for the fifth time this season with a win at Hawaii on November 9. The Spartans missed out on going one game over .500 for the fourth time this season in a 52-42 loss to Boise State. San Jose State was 1-0 after defeating Northern Colorado in the season opener, 2-1, following a win at Arkansas and 3-2 after topping New Mexico in a home game at CEFCU Stadium.

Can there be three road wins?
San Jose State can pick up its third road win this season at Hawaii. Earlier this season, the Spartans won on the road at Arkansas (31-24) in the Central Time Zone and Army (34-29) in the Eastern Time Zone.

The last time San Jose State won three road games in a season was in 2013 when the Spartans were victorious at Hawai’i (37-27), at Colorado State (34-27) in the Mountain Time Zone and at UNLV (34-24) in the Pacific Time Zone.

Points all over the scoreboard
With three regular-season games remaining, San Jose State has scored 269 points in nine games. The current point total is the most by the Spartans in a season since 2016 when San Jose State scored 293 points.

The last time the Spartans scored 300 points in a season was in 2015 when the team won the AutoNation Cure Bowl in a 13-game season scoring 363 points.

30-point games
San Jose State has scored 30 or more points in six of its nine games this season compared to four a year ago. The Spartans are 4-2 in games the team scored 30 or more points this season. The two losses were a 41-38 defeat at Nevada on October 12 and the 52-42 loss to #21-Boise State on November 2.

Two 100-yard receivers
The November 2 Boise State game marked the first time since the October 29, 2016 win over UNLV that two San Jose State players had more than 100 pass receiving yards in the same game. Tre Walker led all players with nine receptions for 193 yards. Bailey Gaither tied a personal single-game best of eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

In the 2016 UNLV win, wide receivers Tim Crawley caught eight passes for 114 yards and Tre Hartley had five receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: With Washington State coming, will Bears be ready after the Utes experience?

calbears.com: Cal Bears Bednarik Semifinalist Award candidate Evan Weaver (89) goes in for the tackle as Weaver and the Bears prepare for the Washington State Cougars Saturday, November 9th.

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 The Bears (4-4) were dismantled in their last game on both sides of the ball in Utah (7-1) 35-0, a shutout, a beating the Bears haven’t experienced this season.

#2 In the game in Utah, Bears quarterback Spencer Brasch threw 7-19 for 47 yards and the Bears simply didn’t get any yardage in the game in Utah.

#3 On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears defense was like butter for the Utes, who scored five touchdowns on the Bears in the first three quarters.

#4 In the fourth quarter, the Utes didn’t score a touchdown and played the bench. Was it their version of the mercy rule since the score was already 35-0?

#5 The Bears host the Washington State Cougars (4-4). It could very well be the Bears best chance at getting back in the win column. They haven’t won since Sept 21st against Ole Miss.

Catch Morris on the Cal Bears podcasts each Monday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Jose State comes up just short in 52-42 loss to #21 Boise State

Photo credit: @SanJoseStateFB

By Ana Kieu

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose State football left West Point, N.Y. with a win over the Army Black Knights. Fast forward to Saturday night, where the Spartans returned home to the South Bay to host the then #21 Boise State Broncos. The Broncos represented the Mountain Division in the 2018 Mountain West Championship Game in which they lost to the Fresno State Bulldogs.

The Spartans hosted Dick Tomey Night in honor of the late head coach Dick Tomey (1938-2019). Tomey was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2019 and died from complications in May 2019. Tomey coached at San Jose State from 2005-09 and finished his tenure with a 25-35 record at SJSU.

San Jose State got on the board first, thanks to DeJon Packer. Packer ran for a 1-yard touchdown for an early 7-0 lead at 10:58. The Spartans followed up with a Josh Love 4-yard touchdown. Yes, Love ran for his own touchdown. Boise State, however, cut the lead in half with 15 seconds left. The Broncos came up with a huge stop on the third down, the Spartans punted for 49 yards and Avery Williams returned it for a 66-yard touchdown. The Spartans led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

San Jose State and Boise State exchanged scores in the second quarter. Matt Mercurio hit a 35-yard field goal to put the Spartans ahead 17-7 at 12:01. George Holani ran for a 1-yard touchdown to bring the Broncos within three with 7:58 left. Josh Love threw a pass to Isaiah Hamilton for a 16-yard touchdown and a 10-point lead with 1:13 left. Eric Sachse hit a 30-yard field goal to bring the Broncos within seven with 24 seconds left. The Spartans took a 24-17 lead to the locker room at the halftime break.

The exhilarating action ensued in the third quarter. San Jose State made the first score, once again. Matt Mercurio hit a 35-yard field goal to put the Spartans up by 10 at 10:27. Boise State scored two touchdowns to take a 31-27 lead. George Holani ran for a 6-yard touchdown to bring the Broncos within three with 9:13 left. Chase Cord ran for a 8-yard touchdown to put the Broncos ahead by four with 3:28 left. DeJon Packer ran for a 3-yard touchdown to put the Spartans up by three with 53 seconds left. The Spartans led 34-31 after three.

The fourth quarter was a thriller, but unfortunately, it was close, but it was “close, but no cigar” for the Spartans. George Holani ran for a 6-yard touchdown — his fourth rushing touchdown of the game — to put the Broncos ahead 38-34 at 11:31. Andrew Van Buren ran for a 32-yard touchdown to put the Broncos up by 11 with 6:24 left. Josh Love threw a pass to Bailey Gaither for a 9-yard touchdown and the Spartans’ two-point conversion was good, which brought them within three with 3:56 left.

However, the 3:56 turned out to be meaningless after Benton Wickersham intercepted a Josh Love pass with 1:25 left to seal the deal for the Broncos. The Spartans were competitive, but fell short in a 52-42 loss.

San Jose State fell to 4-5, 1-4 Mountain West. Boise State improved to 7-1, 4-0 Mountain West.

The Spartans head to Aloha Stadium to face the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Saturday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m. PST.

Stanford Cardinal podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: Cardinal building confidence going into Colorado this Saturday

Photo credit: @StanfordFball

On the Stanford Cardinal podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1 The Stanford Cardinal (4-4) got a very needed victory over the Arizona Wildcats (4-4) last Saturday 41-31 and they chalked up their third win in four games. Coach David Shaw has to like the direction the club is taking?

#2 The Cardinal have won three of their last four games. The win over the Wildcats is good for the emotion going into the Cardinal’s next game in Colorado.

#3 After missing three weeks, Stanford quarterback KJ Costello was back in the line up and threw 30 for 43 for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Looks like the O-line provided him some time to throw the football.

#4 Β Cardinal receiver Simi Fehoko had three receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns. The running game was in full effect for the Cardinal as they accrued over 150 yards on the ground.

#5 The Colorado Buffaloes (3-5) have had some setbacks this year and they are looking for some offense, but it will be on both sides of the ball they’ll be concerned with. On the other hand, the Cardinal come in after that win against Arizona with some confidence as this game is Boulder.

Jerry does the Cardinal podcasts each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Stanford’s Toohill a Campbell Trophy Finalist

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By Ana Kieu

Stanford fifth-year outside linebacker Casey Toohill was named a finalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy on Wednesday, announced by the National Football Foundation. The Campbell Trophy annually recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.

“Casey Toohill is a great example of what it means to truly be a scholar-athlete,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “His work ethic, attention to detail and the passion he plays the game with is matched only by his desire to excel as a student at Stanford University.”

Toohill, who is one of 12 members of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, will be recognized in New York during the 62nd Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 10. He will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, with one member of the class being declared the winner of the 30th William V. Campbell Trophy and having their scholarship amount increased to $25,000.

“This is the most prestigious honor I could have imagined receiving at Stanford,” Toohill said. “I am so honored to represent Stanford and to honor the legacy of Bill Campbell. My parents have always stressed the importance of academic pursuits and have been crucial in my development as a Stanford student-athlete. I owe it to my family and the structure they provided to help me succeed.”

A San Diego native, Toohill is a team captain who will graduate in December with a degree in political science. He’s a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic member and earned CoSIDA Academic All-District in 2017. Toohill holds a 3.71 GPA and would like to attend business school following his playing career.

On the field, Toohill leads the Cardinal with 45 total tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He has added a forced fumble and nine quarterback hurries. He’s tied for fifth in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss while his sack total ranks third.

He’l become the 13th Cardinal in school history to earn NFF National Scholar-Athlete honors and the first since Jordan Richards in 2014. Toohill, Richards and Owen Marecic (2010) are the only three Cardinal to earn NFF Scholar-Athlete honors since 1997.

Stanford NFF Scholar-Athletes (13)
1967 John Root
1970 John Sande III
1976 Duncan McColl
1980 Milt McColl
1981 Darrin Nelson
1983 John Bergren
1992 Glyn Milburn
1994 Justin Armour
1995 David Walker
1997 Damon Dunn
2010 Owen Marecic
2014 Jordan Richards
2019 Casey Toohill

SJSU’s Gaither is back and as fast as ever

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

By Ana Kieu

Bailey Gaither is fast.

Gaither runs fast. Gaither talks fast. One cut, one wiggle and Gaither’s a blur down the field.

The slow slog of injury rehab, however, made the senior wide receiver appreciate that speed even more.

Last year as a junior, Gaither was off to a quick start, with six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns against UC Davis. He had two more catches against Washington State and grabbed six balls for 90 yards at Oregon. In the Mountain West opener against Hawaii, Gaither had already made a 42-yard catch in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, the Paso Robles, Calif., native took a Josh Love pass 55 yards to the house for a touchdown. It was his last play of the season.

“I was running and a guy clipped the back of my foot and I landed funny,” Gaither said. “I had to hop in to the endzone. That was that.”

Gaither tore his Achilles tendon on the play. Just as he was starting to take off as the Spartans’ go-to deep threat, Gaither faced surgery and a long rehabilitation process.

Almost every day for seven months, Gaither got up in the morning and headed to the training room in the Simpkins Stadium Center. He’d do exercises to strengthen his repaired Achilles. Exercises to get the range of motion and flexibility back. It was a lot of heat and ice and work.

With all that, Gaither still thinks the mental part of rehab was the most difficult.

“Trusting myself, telling myself that I’m going to be okay, that I’ll get through it,” Gaither said. “Dealing with myself mentally.”

The mental side of rehab for Gaither included dealing with the false alarms. A string of good days would be spoiled by a painful morning. But that’s all part of the process.

“It’s such a tedious injury,” Gaither said. “It’s hard to tell people that you feel better one day and then worse the next. I didn’t like having to tell people that I was hurting, I wanted to be better. But I needed to be honest with myself. You push it one day and the next day it hurts. Sometimes if you went too easy it would hurt the next day. Rehab is a jagged line, it’s not smooth.”

Eventually, the ins and outs of rehab started to level out. Seven months after surgery, Gaither was able to do the thing he does so well. Run.

Gaither wasn’t able to cut yet, but the straight-line speed that has made him a weapon for the Spartans was still there. He could still get up and go.

“That was definitely the worst injury I’ve had in my life,” Gaither said. “I had my family supporting me through it and all my close friends. The rehab was tough, but it made me stronger.”

Gaither’s family includes his mom, dad and younger brother. Growing up, Gaither used his speed to become a multi-sport star at Paso Robles High School. The 6’1″ wide receiver racked up 3,277 yards receiving and 41 touchdowns over three varsity seasons. He was also the San Luis Obispo Country Player of the Year as a shortstop, hitting .500 his junior year with 32 stolen bases. With colleges calling with offers for both sports, Gaither decided to follow his friend and high school football teammate, Josh Oliver, to San Jose State.

After a redshirt season and limited playing time as a freshman and sophomore, Gaither was enjoying his breakout junior year until going down against Hawaii. The adversity has made his standout senior season even sweeter.

Heading into Saturday’s showdown against No. 21 Boise State, Gaither has been on the receiving end of 27 passes from fellow fifth-year senior quarterback Josh Love for 491 yards and four touchdowns. Love has experienced his own sets of ups and downs during his career, something the pair has bonded over.

“Me and Josh have been friends through this whole process,” Gaither said. “Both a little overlooked when we first got here. Not really in the picture. Kudos to him, he worked really hard for this. He deserves this. A bunch of different coaches and staffs, we’ve been through it all together. New beginnings have been good to us.”

Throughout Gaither’s rehab process, one goal he had was to get back to where he left off. Not only figuratively — starting a season strong and becoming a go-to target — but literally as well. He wanted to get back into the endzone, the place where we was helped off the field a year earlier.

It took a little while, until the Spartans’ fifth game of the season. Against New Mexico on October 4, Gaither showed off his trademark speed with an 80-yard touchdown bomb from Love. Crossing the goal line, Gaither couldn’t help but soak in the moment.

“It just felt so good,” Gaither said. “It felt so good, like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Back to blazing down the field. Back in the end zone. It took a long time to get back to that place, but Gaither has made quick work of reclaiming his role as the Spartans’ deep threat.