Saturday, August 6, 2016

As Redskins cornerback makes it in the NFL, the place that made him is no longer

RICHMOND, Virginia -- — Prime-time NFL games can give a glimpse inside a player’s past. In a three-second clip, the starters introduce themselves to the national audience and mention which school they attended. Most will represent their colleges, some their high or elementary schools, with a sense of pride.

For the past three seasons, Greg Toler, 31, has represented a defunct school. Saint Paul’s College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in Lawrenceville, Va., ceased operations on June 30, 2013. This small school near the Virginia-North Carolina border typically had an enrollment of fewer than 1,000. It gave the Redskins cornerback a chance out of high school, one that altered his future for the better.

The Arizona Cardinals drafted Greg Toler in 2009 with the 131st overall selection in the fourth round. He became the school’s first NFL draftee, although Redskins Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green finished his degree at Saint Paul’s.

The Washington native’s dream of playing in the NFL likely wouldn’t have come true without the existence of Saint Paul’s, which shut down primarily because of funding. Talent wasn’t the issue for the eight-year veteran. Toler was a cornerback, wide receiver and return specialist at Northwestern High in Hyattsville.

It was his grades that prevented Toler from getting much of a look from bigger colleges; his academics would not have allowed him to qualify.


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