COVINGTON, Ga. — This week we stay at Newton for our weekly College Football Q&A series, and we take you into the mind of West Virginia senior safety and former Rams star Toyous Avery.
Just as Avery was starting to carve himself out a solid reputation in the Mountaineers’ defensive backfield last season, the 6-foot, 200-pounder, who also stopped at Coffeyville (Kan.) JUCO right out of high school, he sustained an injury to his foot in the fourth game of the 2017 season against Baylor that shortened his junior campaign.
Avery recorded 20 tackles and 14 solo stops through seven games, with four pass deflections — almost identical to his entire sophomore season. Avery was hanging out at Newton Tuesday, getting in a workout and imparting into upcoming Rams standouts. Here, he talks about his hunger to go out with a bang as a senior in Morgantown.
STOVALL: What are your goals coming out for your senior year at West Virginia?
AVERY: “I want to come out my senior year with people saying I’m one of the best DBs in the nation. I want to just come out and be able to get drafted (in the NFL) and just represent that way.”
STOVALL: Your journey to get to West Virginia was a harrowing experience. How would you describe the way playing D-1 ball has shaped you into becoming a better player and man?
AVERY: “Really, it’s all about discipline. Every time you got something to do make sure you do it in the moment. Can’t put nothing on hold. And being a student-athlete at a D-1 college is a lot on your back, you ain’t got time to slack off. Everyday you’ve got something to do to better yourself and improve.”
STOVALL: What do you feel like has been your biggest challenge playing at a Power Five school?
AVERY: “Really just taking care of my body. You’ve gotta really learn how to take care of your body. From Getting your treatment, even if you think it’s just a little thing or a little pain in the body, you’ve gotta work on it so it doesn’t become even bigger. It’s all about getting your treatment and eating right. Your body’s like a temple. You’ve gotta treat it good if you want it to stay up.”
STOVALL: How tough was it to sit out last season with the injury, or even play without being 100 percent?
AVERY: “It was very painful, and not just the injury itself. I felt like last year was supposed to be the year I was going to show people who I am. Like, this guy’s really here to play and show out. I really only played four games. I did my thing, but it wasn’t enough. I was getting better every game, but it was just an unfortunate way to end my junior season.”
STOVALL: How much more hungry does missing that time make you?
AVERY: “Very hungry. I’m doing a lot more than I usually would. Without that injury, I probably wouldn’t be out here (at Newton). Every time I’m sitting still, I feel like I’ve gotta do something. From the littlest thing like stretching to pushups, even going in the back yard to do something real quick. I’ve always gotta be moving.”
STOVALL: Does being out here at a Newton practice bring back any nostalgia for you?
AVERY: “Yeah. Oh yeah. It’s a lot of yelling out here still. I like what Newton did for me, though. It gave me a whole lot of character. Made me feeling like going anywhere — I went to JUCO coming straight out of school, so going out there, made you feel like wherever you went you’re the best. Like there’s nobody better than you. That’s what these coaches at Newton put in you. Always do the best you can.”
STOVALL: If some of these guys trying to go D-1 came up to talk to you right now, what’s the best advice you can give them?
AVERY: “Make sure their school work is taken care of first, and always listen to these coaches, no matter if it’s the smallest thing, listen to them, because they’re gonna tell you the right thing. They’re not gonna tell you nothing that’s going hurt you. That and school. Can’t go anywhere without that school work. They don’t care how athletic you are on this level if the grades aren’t straight. That’s why I went to JUCO. It helped me realize that they aren’t playing with the school stuff. It’s got to be taken real seriously. Grades have to come first.”
STOVALL: Sometimes kids look at that JUCO route with a little disdain. What would you say to someone who sees JUCO as an undesirable destination?
AVERY: “Well, I’m very glad I went to JUCO because certain people are not ready yet coming fresh out of high school. Certain people take longer to develop. When I went to JUCO, I had all the athletic ability. But I didn’t have the knowledge of where to line up in certain plays. The coverages. How to read the coverages. Like in high school I was just using my athleticism to go out here and make plays, but when you get out there to college, it’s so many more athletic people you’ve got to contend with. So the JUCO route definitely equipped me better.”
STOVALL: When football playing days are done, what do you think will be next for you?
AVERY: “Hopefully I’ll play in the NFL for a while and have a comfortable living. If i do that, I’d love to come back and get all the kids back here in Covington right. You know, put the word in for the good kids. Help these young men get to the next level.”