When it was time for St. Frances Academy's Jordan Toles to pick a sport to keep playing in college, he found it difficult to choose between his childhood love of basketball and his talent for football.
But Toles had a simple solution when he ultimately committed to LSU earlier this month: he decided to choose both.
"I got mad love for both," Toles said on
Glenn Clark Radio
June 13. "It's hard for me to pick, so I knew when I wanted to make it to the next level, [playing both sports] is what I wanted to do. I wanted to push myself to the mental capacity where I could do that."
When Toles graduates in 2020 and makes the trip to Baton Rouge, La., he will be taking the field as a safety for the Tigers in the fall and then stepping onto the basketball court as a guard. Toles has contributed to high school championships on the gridiron and hardwood, and his passion for both sports is what drives him to attempt the lifestyle of a two-sport athlete. He plans on keeping it that way for as long as possible.
"I'm the type of person that once I set my mind to something, that's what I want to do," Toles said. "I don't think anyone can stop me from doing what I want to do and living my dream."
While Toles has love for both sports, basketball has been a part of his life for much longer. He grew up playing the sport and playing it has almost become a second nature to him. As Toles put it, not playing basketball is like not breathing.
Football was different, though. The sport didn't come into Toles' life until about the fifth or sixth grade. He wasn't playing safety at the time, either; because he was the biggest athlete on the field, he was playing defensive end.
But Toles' father always made sure that basketball came first, which is why he made his son quit the team after breaking his hand before a big basketball tournament.
"He was like, 'Man, we gotta shut it down,'" Toles recalled. "And at the time, I was getting good at it. It hurt that I had to stop, but I knew it was best for me."
But Toles soon found his way back onto the field by high school, and he started to garner a lot of attention from Division I coaches. When Toles told them about his desire to play both sports, they were worried that something similar to breaking his hand would happen again.
Toles didn't share their concerns.
"The way I look at things, if you think negative, negative things will happen," Toles said. "So I always try to be positive and confident in my ability and my preparation. So I know if something does go wrong, I can recoup from that quickly and be ready to go."
It didn't take long for Toles to start receiving offers from schools. Most of them were from schools in the Big Ten, but LSU was the only SEC school to give him an offer. He immediately knew that's where he wanted to play.
"The SEC, to me, that's just the best level you could play at," Toles said. "The SEC is just different, it brings a different animal out of everybody. So if I can compete at that level, I feel like I can be the best at my position in both sports."
Toles knows that he will ultimately have to choose one sport if he wants to play at a professional level. It's nearly impossible to play both basketball and football professionally. But that decision will come from Toles himself.
And he doesn't see that decision coming anytime soon.
"That'll be by me, though," Toles said. "Nobody can determine how far I can take this. That'll be on my work ethic and mentality, if I really want to do it."
For more from Toles, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox