OGDEN -- In the past six years, seven former Weber State Wildcats have signed on with NFL teams and are still in the league. Will that number grow this weekend?
As the 32 NFL teams prepare for this week's draft, a handful of former Wildcats hope to find their way on one of those 32 rosters, either by way of the draft or by signing as a free agent. The best Wildcat prospect is former wideout/kick returner Tim Toone, who recently visited a pair of NFL teams' headquarters.
"I'm just expecting to sign somewhere as a free agent," Toone said. "Anything better than that is a bonus. I know a team's going to take a chance and I'm going to work hard and make their team."
The draft opens with the first round on Thursday, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday with the fourth through seventh rounds taking place Saturday.
While Toone is taking the conservative approach this week, others close to him say he has a good chance of being drafted.
Toone, who came to WSU from Peoria, Ariz., spent the first part of last week visiting the headquarters of both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. The Jaguars initially planned on flying Toone out to visit after they liked what they saw of Toone during WSU's pro timing day last month and a private workout the following week in Ogden, and when the Dolphins heard that Toone would be in Florida they scheduled a visit as well.
"I think usually, when they bring somebody in they're usually thinking about drafting him," McBride said. "They won't fly a guy in unless he's on the draft list, so it's a big plus."
Since McBride became WSU's head coach prior to the 2005 season, he has seen a handful of his players reach the NFL. Paul McQuistan (Jacksonville), Pat McQuistan (Dallas), Dave Hale (Baltimore), Marcus Mailei (New Orleans), J.D. Folsom (Miami), Dimitri Tsoumpas (Miami) and Bo Smith (New York Jets) are all currently on NFL rosters.
Former WSU defensive back Josh Morris has also gained interest from NFL teams after a great showing at WSU's pro timing day, which followed an outstanding season when he proved to be a shut-down cornerback.
"I think that Josh is a guy who, if given a good shot, will definitely make it," McBride said. "There aren't a lot of guys who play corner who are as long as he is."
McBride said that center Kyle Mutcher, punter Mike Snoy and running back Trevyn Smith may also get the chance to sign on in the NFL.
However, Toone has been the only player from last season's squad to have official visits to NFL teams.
"It was cool," Toone said. "It was nice to get a feel of what teams were actually thinking about me and to see their organizations and meet their coaches."
Toone enjoyed the tour of the facilities, and was especially impressed with the Jaguars' facility.
"Their whole facility is in one location," Toone said. "The practice fields are right next to the stadium. The locker rooms connected to weight room connected to athletic training room."
When he was in Miami, Folsom and his wife, Micah, visited Toone at his hotel and the former teammates got to catch up. Toone was also at the Dolphins' headquarters on Wednesday when the team made the huge trade with the Denver Broncos for wideout Brandon Marshall.
Toone said he was with Miami general manager Jeff Ireland when the trade went down, who reassured Toone that with Marshall becoming a Dolphin, the team was still interested in Toone.
"He was just like, 'That has nothing to do with you, we still really like you,'" Toone said.
Toone leaves WSU as its career leader in pass receptions (206), receiving yards (3,607) and touchdown catches (29). In 2009, he was the NCAA Division I FCS leader in punt returns, averaging just less than 20 yards per return, and set a Big Sky Conference record with a 95-yard touchdown return.
"He's got legitimate speed, which is one thing you've got to have," McBride said. "His return ability is important, what he does on special teams will be a big factor and his discipline and his route running are huge."