“[BEING RECRUITED] DOESN’T REALLY GET FRUSTRATING, IT’S LIKE A BIG GAME TO ME. IT’S A LOT OF FUN. YOU DON’T KNOW
WHAT TO EXPECT EVERY DAY. I JUST TAKE IT DAY BY DAY, STAY HUMBLE AND NEVER GET A BIG HEAD.” – KEVIN TOLIVER II
THERE’S ALWAYS SOME- thing waiting for Kevin Toliver II: private messages on Facebook; voicemails;
unknown numbers blowing up his
caller ID; text messages; pay-for-recruiting-news websites angling for
a new spin; LSU fans wishing him a
good morning on Twitter; and Florida
fans countering how much better
Gainesville is than Baton Rouge.
Toliver, a 6-foot- 2 defensive back
from Jacksonville Trinity Christian,
laughs about how much things have
“As a freshman, it was real excit-
ing [to feel that interest],” he said. “It
was like all the older boys were do-
ing the same thing we’re doing now.
I couldn’t wait to get to that point.”
That point arrived early in his career.
He pledged to LSU in November 2012 and debuted
as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect by ESPN less
than eight months later.
The freight train of
hype has thundered along
ever since, and with it,
the challenges of navigating high
school football, recruiting and social media.
Coaches, media and fans stay
connected to Toliver. While it does
have its drawbacks, he enjoys stay-
ing plugged in to all of them.
Toliver embraced the process
early. A week during the busy sea-
son for him includes maybe a dozen
text messages from state and na-
tional recruiting writers, and even
more direct messages from fans
and followers on social media. Fac-
tor in texts and calls from coaches
and there’s always something wait-
ing for him.
“It doesn’t really get frustrating,
it’s like a big game to me,” Toliver
said. “It’s a lot of fun. You don’t
know what to expect every day. I
just take it day by day, stay humble
and never get a big head.”
The buildup to 2015 has been ris-
ing for years and his parents, Kevin
and Stephanie, saw it coming. So,
The Spotlight Beams Bright
they put some checks and
balances in place for dealing with the outside forces,
something Trinity coach
Verlon Dorminey believes is
critical under today’s 24/7
“A lot of kids get caught
Kevin Toliver II
up with it, some kids love
it, the attention, the excite-
ment,” Toliver’s father said.
“With no structure, you can
be all over the place.”
Interviews, media, coach-
es, anything extra-curricular,
must come within a certain
timeframe. According to Kevin
“I get text messages throughout
the day, people I don’t even know,”
Toliver said. “Me talking to college
coaches every day, every night call-
ing me, my phone just stays busy.
Sometimes, I just turn it off and
stay to myself.”
But when he turns it back on, Toliver
knows what’s waiting for him. Some-
thing always is. – Justin Barney
DB, Jacksonville Trinity Christian
“[FOOTBALL AND MUSIC] ARE DIFFEREN T AND I LIKE THEM BOTH, BUT FOOTBALL IS WHERE I SEE MY FUTURE.”
– JAMIESON CRASKE
MOST HIGH SCHOOL football players spend their summers going to camps and combines,
playing in 7-on- 7 tournaments and
learning the playbook.
Osceola’s Jamieson Craske spends
his as a budding rock star.
As a member of the Tampa Bay
band Bet Me I’m Lying, Craske
trades his shoulder pads for a shoulder strap, playing the bass guitar
and helping on vocals with a group
of neighborhood friends that have
been playing together since they
were 12 years old.
“We’re all neighbors, and one day
we decided to start a band, and we
were pretty good, so we kept it go-
ing,” Craske said.
The popular local band, which
consists of Clearwater Central
Catholic students and brothers
Brendan and Jackson Marquardt,
as well as Kirk Adikes and C.J.
Harris, actually made its unofficial
debut without Craske.
At the time, it was just a handful
Fun Off the Field
Rockin’ and Rollin’
of friends who learned five songs to
play at a birthday party for Adikes’
father. They didn’t have a bass
player – Matt Marquardt, father of
Jackson and Brendan, and currently
the band’s manager, filled that role
– but Craske became the bassist
Six months later, in November
2008, they played a gig at a park in
Largo and have been going strong
“Ever since I can remember, my
parents have always told me I had
to play a musical instrument. So I
picked the guitar,” Craske said.
“Then I started in the band and
transferred over to the bass.”
While most members of the band
have athletic backgrounds, Craske,
who is 6-foot- 1 and 230 pounds, is
easy to spot as the linebacker of
“I do all the heavy lifting,” he jokes.
As one of the Warriors’ top return-
ing starters, he has already attract-
ed recruiting attention from UCF
and FAU, and his 3. 77 GPA and dual
enrollment at St. Petersburg College
has attracted the football programs
at Princeton, Penn and some of the
other Ivy League schools.
“They are different and I like
them both,” Craske said of his dual
role as a rocker on stage and on the
field, “but football is where I see my
Balancing both activities gets
harder as his football responsibili-
ties increase. He will attend some
team camps this summer, cutting
into his time on stage. But the
group, which has produced albums
that can be purchased on iTunes,
is already booked for a number of
shows, including a wedding in April.
“When we first started it, we did
it for fun,” Craske said. “We wanted
to play shows, but we never thought
it would get as big as it got.”
The band’s Facebook page has
over 10,000 likes and they play at
several local venues such as Jan-
nus Landing and the State Theatre
in St. Petersburg.
“It’s great,” Craske said. “We’re
on our own for weeks at a time,
staying in hotels, traveling to different cities. It’s been a great experience.” – John Cotey