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Casey Toohill ’19 forges path into the NFL

Despite challenges, rookie defensive end finds playing time, roster space on two teams

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Former Stanford outside linebacker and current NFL rookie Casey Toohill ’19 was officially added to the Washington Football Team’s active roster last week on Oct. 20 after clearing the league’s mandated COVID-19 testing protocols. Toohill, an All-Pac-12 Second Team selection his fifth year on the Farm, was drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles before being waived and picked up by the Washington Football Team on Oct. 14. 

The San Diego native appeared in a total of 46 games over his five-year career at Stanford and racked up 132 tackles along with 14.5 sacks. A strong senior year in which Toohill started every game and got to the quarterback eight times combined with a stellar performance at the 2020 NFL Combine was enough to catch the eye of the Eagles front office.

Without the traditional opportunities to train in preparation for the season due to COVID-19, Toohill was forced to think outside the box and make the most of his circumstances. Listed as 6’5″ and weighing 254 pounds, Toohill was considered undersized by many for a defensive end, a position he moved to after being drafted, coming out of college. 

Yet, he didn’t let external factors or opinions impact his mindset or dedication to getting bigger, stronger and faster. Toohill said he “bought a makeshift weight room for [his] garage [and] worked out there.”

Toohill also mentioned that although he reconnected with an old “speedtrainer in San Diego that [he has] worked out with forever, it was hard to find fields to run at or [he] would get kicked out of fields when working out at them.” 

This desire to get better, regardless of the circumstances, paid off for Toohill as he made the Philadelphia Eagles roster after training camp. Due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, there were no Organized Team Activities (OTAs) or preseason games — two integral parts of the NFL offseason for rookies as they transition from the college game to NFL. Toohill credits Stanford for preparing him and emphasized that he is focused on “looking at the minor details while honing small technical aspects of [his] game.” 

As an Eagle, Toohill played 22 snaps before being placed on waivers. Being waived allows for other teams around the NFL to put in a claim for the waived player. After 24 hours, the player is added to the team with the lowest record. For Toohill, the 24-hour window involved waiting in Philadelphia before being contacted by his agent with the news that the Washington Football Team had successfully claimed him. 

From that moment, the chaos started as Toohill was talking to family, meeting with “a few people from the Washington Football Team and then packing up all [his] things from Philadelphia and driving to Virginia.”

Per NFL policy, Toohill was required to undergo seven days of testing before being permitted into Washington facilities. During that period, he was “texting [his] coaches, learning the playbook” and ironing out logistics. 

Heading into a Washington defensive line room with established veterans such as Ryan Kerrigan and rising stars such as Chase Young in addition to the added challenge of learning a brand new playbook is no small feat; however, Toohill noted that he is “excited for this opportunity” and the possibility of a “good challenge.”

In terms of improving on the field, Toohill has emphasized that he is “committed to learning and improving everyday” with an end goal of being “a better football player by the end of [his] time [in Washington]” than when he started.

Shan Reddy contributed reporting. 

Contact Jacob Neidig at jhneidig ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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