Wilson, Toon ready to light up scoreboard

MADISON - Russell Wilson to Nick Toon.

Most Badger fans would be surprised if that connection is not made at least a couple times Thursday night when the Wisconsin football team opens the 2011 season against UNLV.

Take a look at the box score from UW's annual spring game, though, and you will see neither Wilson's nor Toon's name.

Wilson, of course, had not yet arrived on campus. His transition from playing second base for the Class A Asheville Tourists to starting at quarterback for Wisconsin has been both quick and remarkable.

Toon, though, has traveled a different road, one that has led him to full health.

 

Plagued by injuries throughout his junior year, Toon had offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. While his teammates practiced in the spring, Toon diligently worked on his recovery. He missed all of spring practice and was eager to get back on the field at the beginning of fall camp.

The month of August presented another setback, however. Toon began to experience soreness in his foot and was held out of several practices. Many considered the recurrence of pain in Toon's foot to be a bad sign entering the season.

But the wide grin on Toon's face following Sunday's practice did not look like it belonged to an ailing player.

"I feel great," Toon beamed when asked about his health. "I feel as good as I've felt since last year."

Toon actually suffered the first of his injuries in 2010 in the opener at UNLV. He remembers everything about the play, a bubble screen that he caught running to his right. When he was tackled out of bounds, his foot was extended and another player landed on the back of it.

Toon says he is pain-free 12 months later and he doesn't worry about suffering similar freak injuries this year.

"I'm glad to be back here at Wisconsin playing my senior season," Toon said. "I'm excited to see what we can do this year, excited to be playing with Russell and the rest of the team. I think that the sky's the limit for us this year."

Toon says the bond he has developed with Wilson over the summer is stronger than any he has ever had with a quarterback.

"I hosted him on his visit and we kind of hit it off right away," Toon said of Wilson. "The relationship kind of bloomed from there. We're friends on and off the field, which I think helps. I've never really had a relationship like that with a quarterback."

Wilson, whose supporting cast on offense was often lacking in his three seasons at NC State, is excited about the opportunity to throw to a big, physical target.

"He's doing a great job," Wilson said of Toon. "He's doing a really good job right now and catching the ball really well, playing aggressively and attacking the ball. He's got a lot of talent."

If the pair's production is a reflection of their chemistry and mutual admiration, keep an eye on No. 1 when he gets open against the Rebels.

 

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