Back when he committed to Notre Dame in early 2009, Robby Toma was looked at as nothing more than a throw-in with Manti Te’o, a teammate of his at Punahou School in Hawaii. After all, Toma wasn’t highly ranked and was being offered by very few schools.
In his first three seasons in South Bend, those critics of Toma’s out of high school are more than likely patting their own backs and telling others” I told you so.” The junior receiver has had only 27 catches over his three seasons in blue and gold.
Toma had one of the biggest game of his collegiate career this past Saturday against Maryland. Coming into the game, he had only three catches on the entire season, but he had seven grabs for 73 yards in Notre Dame’s blowout victory over the weekend.
The reason for Toma’s sudden surge was because of a hamstring injury to Theo Riddick. The coaching staff is still taking it slow with Riddick and it remains to be seen if the junior receiver will be able to play this weekend against Boston College.
Even if Riddick suddenly gains his full health, Toma should remain the starter for this football team at the slot position in Brian Kelly’s offense. There are so many things that Toma brings to the table that Riddick does not.
There is no denying that Riddick has more talent. He has better speed, athleticism and size, but you can’t measure a receiver based just solely on how fast they run a 40-yard dash or how high they can jump.
One of the main things that you have to like about Toma is how productive he is when he gets playing time. He was one of Tommy Rees’ top targets on Saturday despite the two not playing a lot with one another in game situations. There have been times where Riddick has totally disappered in games this season.
Toma is also an excellent blocker. There were a few times where he made blocks that set up big gains for the Irish run game. Riddick has been up and down blocking all year long.
The junior receiver also protects the football, something that has hurt the Irish offense this season. So far in his career, Toma has yet to put the football on the carpet. Riddick had a costly fumble on a punt return in the opening game of the season against South Florida.
Maybe the head coach never got over that and that is why Riddick has put a huge part of the offense like many were expecting early on in the season.
Riddick is a talented player and there is no question that he will be needed over his final year plus of eligibility but for now, Toma should continue to be the starter at the slot position for the Notre Dame offense.