It may be the best use of a year lost to a torn ACL.
Cornerback Greg Toler, who missed the 2011 season because he wrecked his knee, not only finished up the last three credits he needed at Saint Paul’s College — he took his final Finals a couple weeks ago — to get a degree in Criminal Justice, but he even stayed in a dorm for a couple of nights.
“Some of the guys (who he played football with) said ‘We can’t believe you came back, Greg,’ ” Toler said. “But I stayed in the dorm, and it brought me back around, seeing where I came from.”
Where he came from was the tiny Virginia college that was so far off the football map when he was there it nearly wasn’t on the map, and a school that dropped its football program last summer. He had a mentor telling him as soon as he was drafted to come back and get his degree as soon as he could, before he got caught up in being an NFL player. Toler didn’t heed that, but it was important for him to get it done.
“I just felt like there was no better time than now,” Toler said. “I’m happy to do it for my son, my mother. I’m happy she’s going to be able to see me walk.”
Toler plans to take part in the Saint Paul’s graduation ceremonies in May. He did need some help, and got some both from a student board and the school’s president in allowing him to get into classes after the deadline. He did some work long distance, returned to Virginia for a few weekends for more of the work, and then spent a week (which including his recent dorm experience.) That return included a couple of tests and an essay in biological science, in addition to seeing the guy who ran the pizza shop Toler frequented during his college days.
“He was surprised, saying he thought I would’ve changed, but I’m the same guy, just have a different zip code now,” Toler said.
Rehabbing his knee, Toler — a restricted free agent who is expected to be back with the Cards — has every expectation to be ready for training camp. But he also likes the idea of having a degree. He said he was good in forensics in school, and while he didn’t necessarily see himself following his sister as a second lawyer in the family, he could see himself in some part of law enforcement.
He’d rather play 15 years in the NFL, of course. But he likes what his degree means, for both himself and his son. “Now I can make my son get (a degree),” Toler said. “He’s seen me play football and I don’t want him to think that’s it.”
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