Last Leg

first_imgAlbany kicker Toole earns scholarship in final season after gruesome high school injury, multiple college stops Published on September 3, 2015 at 4:26 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Sitting on the field with three minutes left at a high school showcase game, Patrick Toole looked at his lower leg bent in the shape of an L.It wasn’t shock or pain that hit Toole when his tibia and fibula snapped, but the long-term reality that hit him hardest.“I thought my career was over before I even really got to begin in college,” Toole said. “… especially for a kicker, someone who breaks their leg. That’s all they have.”Toole’s injury stole his opportunity to walk across the stage at his high school graduation — instead he rolled across in a wheelchair. It robbed him of a chance to show off his kicking ability to the coaches at Temple, his first college destination.But it also helped him land at Albany, the first college Toole has stayed at for more than one year. The drive to Albany takes about an hour and a half from his house, but to get there and to earn a scholarship in his final season, it’s taken three years, two one-year trials at Tennessee and Temple and a year off from organized football at Erie Community College.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Even the doctors told me that maybe it wasn’t the best idea for me to play sports anymore,” Toole said, “but I knew I could still do it.”For a month after surgery, Toole was bedridden. Slowly he progressed from aquatic therapy in the first few months to trying to walk properly and then he started weight training. In all it took a year to get back to full strength, but Temple had only offered him the opportunity to earn a scholarship in his first year there. The injury forced him to redshirt.Al Golden, the coach who had recruited Toole, left for Miami after the 2010 season and Steve Addazio replaced him. Toole didn’t have a chance to kick for Addazio’s staff in his first season and was unable to earn a scholarship.“We realized he wasn’t going to play at Temple because of the coaching change and also their starting kicker is now the starting kicker for the (Denver) Broncos,” Adam Tanalski, Toole’s kicking coach said, adding that Toole’s injury also played into the decision.Toole transferred to Erie Community College near Buffalo, New York, to get his associates degree and train with Tanalski, but didn’t play football. Tanalski used connections to help get Toole recruited by Tennessee, where he chose to walk on over Louisiana State and Kansas.The coaching staff Toole committed to was removed before he arrived at Tennessee in the spring of 2013. Tanalski’s connections and head coach Derek Dooley were replaced by current head coach Butch Jones and his staff. Toole sat behind Michael Pardy, who is currently on the St. Louis Rams’ roster.EVEN THE DOCTORS TOLD ME THAT MAYBE IT WASN’T THE BEST IDEA FOR ME TO PLAY SPORTS ANYMORE, BUT I KNEW I COULD STILL DO IT.Patrick TooleDuring Winter Break after the 2013 season, Toole’s father, Stephen, had diverticulitis, a digestive disorder where pouches form in the colon, but the pouches burst, causing Stephen to contract blood poisoning. Stephen went to the hospital and had surgery 45 minutes after having an MRI done. Two days after Stephen was admitted to the hospital, Toole left to go back to Tennessee.“I called him probably two or three times a day,” Toole said. “I called my mom, to make sure he was OK, to make sure he wasn’t lying to me.”Toole’s father spent 21 days in the intensive care unit at the hospital, losing 60 pounds from surgeries and being sick. Stephen’s condition pushed Toole to transfer closer to home. This time, Toole only entertained Albany.Unsure of Toole’s ability, Albany gave him the chance to walk on. Off the bat, Toole earned the starting kicking job. After three years with no in-game kicking experience, he started the first game of last season.When Toole kicked his first field goal in the third quarter of last season’s opener, he missed from 35 yards. After the game, he texted Tanalski he hadn’t driven his leg through the ball.“I think you could see a little bit of (apprehension to kick) early on in preseason camp last year,” Albany special teams coordinator Jeff Dittman said.But after the initial miss, he kicked two extra points through the uprights, including the game-winning point with 44 seconds left against Holy Cross. Toole earned third-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors after last year, and Tanalski said he had four of the five longest field goals in the CAA.After trying at Temple and Tennessee to not just kick, but also earn a scholarship, the Great Danes put Toole on full scholarship for his senior season.“It’s rewarding to go through this journey,” Toole said. “… To be able to prove people wrong … is a really nice, humbling experience.” Comments This is placeholder text Advertisementlast_img read more

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