UW football: Toon family seizes the moment

2011-10-20T06:00:00Z 2011-10-20T08:00:04Z UW football: Toon family seizes the momentTOM MULHERN | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 | Twitter: @TomMulhernWSJ madison.com

Al Toon never talked much with his children about his football career.

"He kind of tried, I think, to steer away from talking about it, because he didn't want me to feel like I didn't have a normal dad," University of Wisconsin senior wide receiver Nick Toon said.

"Obviously, he's different than a lot of people, but I'm very fortunate to be in the situation I'm in."

Nick Toon has a little better appreciation of his dad's NFL career with the New York Jets after going with the rest of his family to watch Al Toon, who now lives in Middleton, get inducted into the Jets' Ring Of Honor during halftime Monday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

After a standout career for the Badgers, Al Toon had an eight-year career with the Jets that ended prematurely in 1992 due to series of concussions that reached nine by his count.

Nick Toon is well aware of his dad's accomplishments and has gone with him to Jets functions, but to hear the crowd bellowing the familiar "TOOOON" at such an important event had a special meaning.

"They went nuts," Nick Toon said of the crowd's reaction to his father's induction.

"It was a very cool experience. Not very many people get the opportunity to do that. To be able to get the opportunity to go out there and see that happen was a blessing. (I'm) obviously very proud of my dad. That's a huge deal."

That's only the start to an important week for Nick Toon, who missed the Badgers' game against Indiana on Saturday with an aggravation to a previous injury in his left foot. Toon underwent surgery in the spring on the foot to repair a fracture to the fifth metatarsal.

Despite an ESPN television report that Toon would miss the game on Saturday night at Michigan State, he practiced on Tuesday and declared himself ready.

"Fortunately, ESPN doesn't make that decision," Toon said. "I make that decision and I practiced (Tuesday), felt great. I will be out there on Saturday."

This is a redemption game for several Badgers, including Toon, who had perhaps the low point of a tough season last year in the 34-24 loss at Michigan State.

He returned to the lineup after missing three games with a turf toe injury and caught just one pass for 28 yards in the fourth quarter. He had one clear drop on a play that would have been called back by a holding penalty, then had another catchable pass go off his hands.

After the game, Toon let his frustration get to him and said he wanted to get more opportunities.

That hasn't been an issue this season. He leads the team with 25 receptions for 447 yards and a career-high six touchdowns despite missing one game.

Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said Toon is one of several players who came out of that game with something to prove.

"I absolutely think that," Chryst said. "I think he had some chances. One of the things we were not very good on last year (in the game) was third down (3-for-11). Some of those were opportunities he was directly involved in.

"It's a one-on-one, I don't know if we won them. Good teams, good defenses, you're put in those situations."

The Spartans like to blitz, which means they put their cornerbacks in a lot of one-on-one coverage. The Badgers had only 127 passing yards in the game and the receivers combined to catch four passes for 62 yards.

"No matter who you're playing, when they bring pressure, you've got to make them pay for it," Toon said. "That's what you have to do on offense to have success."

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