In his spare time this summer, Jon Toth helped one of his professors with a research project in the basement of Kentucky’s engineering building.
“Working on a tow tank,” the UK center described for the media at Southeastern Conference Media Days on Wednesday. “Just trying to get that thing up and running.”
A what? Come again?
“You tow an object through the water and we’re working on the design of the force sensing system that will capture the forces on the object and relay that to the computer,” he explained some more.
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Heads nodded. Nervous laughter filled the air.
When he was done helping with that project, Toth worked with another professor to insulate a partial enclosure to reduce noise that gets in.
Oh, and he’s able to explain all of that in fluent Spanish.
All of that extra work for such a demanding major probably means Toth is never able to work out or watch extra film like his teammates, right?
“He’s constantly around our building,” Coach Mark Stoops said of Toth, who has started 35 straight games for Kentucky and is on nearly every major watch list for the nation’s elite offensive linemen.
“He makes it look easy. As you know, it’s very difficult for these players. They get pulled a lot of directions. They have a lot to do, a lot of responsibilities with their classes and their workouts, but he seems to do it very easy.”
If he’s not working out, he goes running or he’ll get a sports massage or do some light stretching. Anything that he thinks will give his 6-foot-5, 310-pound body an edge.
When Toth isn’t helping himself, he’s trying to help teammates get better. When future UK center Drake Jackson arrived on campus a semester early to learn his trade, he immediately latched onto Toth.
“He’s going to play in the NFL and he’s going to play for a long time and if he doesn’t, he’s going to be an engineer,” Drake said this year. “He knows what he’s doing and he’s willing to show other guys how to get there.”
The Indianapolis native’s name comes up regularly in recruiting. When parents of academically ambitious recruits wonder whether their sons will be able to balance the rigors of a college football player’s schedule with the course work, Stoops simply points them to Toth.
“It’s great to say, ‘Hey, talk to Jon Toth. He’s able to do that,’” Stoops said.
When he hears people say there’s no way a guy can play high-level football and pursue a complicated major, Toth smiles.
“That’s a complete myth,” he said. “It’s tough, especially in those middle two years, it’s a grind. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, it’s completely doable.”
For Toth, it’s been about time management and figuring out what’s important. He doesn’t go without sleep, opting to go to bed at 9 p.m. on nights before he has 7 a.m. workouts.
He likes to get up at 5 on those mornings so he can eat and hydrate before working out.
“That’s a huge part of it. Just managing your time and being able to not watch TV and do your homework instead,” Toth said.
Does he have time for fun? For movies? Video games?
“I have time for all that, I just choose to use that time for something else,” he said. “Like during the season, I didn’t watch Netflix. That’s just a conscious decision everyone makes. Are you going to watch Netflix now or are you going to maybe do a couple extra things on the field? It’s just time management and deciding what you want to do.”
And apparently, Toth is going to do it all.
“I give him props,” linebacker Courtney Love said. “He’s a smart guy, especially with everything we do as far as football and workouts and everything like that. He’s a phenomenal guy, and I can’t wait to see what he does this season.”