FRISCO, Texas — Final July,by no means may have imagined his journey to The Star was a precursor to his future with the .
The receiver and a few pals had been simply visiting his buddy,, an outfielder within the farm system, who was enjoying basically throughout the road from the Cowboys’ facility for the Frisco RoughRiders. They stood on the turf subject exterior Ford Heart, watching highlights of quarterback and working again play on a loop.
“It was at all times a purpose to have the ability to play on the highest degree, regardless of the sport was, soccer or baseball,” stated Thompson, who was Tolbert’s quarterback at McGill-Toolen Excessive Faculty in Cell, Alabama, and is now with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Spherical Rock, Texas. “We’re working to play on the highest degree. Any crew can be superior, but it surely’s loopy that he acquired an opportunity to go to the Cowboys. That’s fairly neat.”
Thompson was the Rangers’ first-round decide in 2017, whereas Tolbert was the Cowboys’ third-round decide final month, however their chase of their professional sports activities dream started the identical method: fixed days and nights working routes, throwing passes, lifting weights, taking swings within the cage and understanding within the sand to enhance their power and quickness.
“We’ve at all times been like that,” Thompson stated. “We’re attempting to be the most effective. That’s what the most effective do. Simply acquired to be ready. It ain’t going to only come to you.”
Tolbert didn’t play soccer till his sophomore yr in highschool. He was extra of a baseball participant, like Thompson, and even attended a non-public exercise for the Rangers held in Atlanta. However he acquired hooked on soccer, jokingly saying he had extra hassle with the slider than the curveball. He caught 14 passes for 135 yards as a junior in highschool. As a senior, with Thompson as his quarterback, he caught 37 passes for 696 yards and 9 touchdowns, making all of it the way in which to the State 7A Championship.
He was removed from a sure-fire prospect. He acquired curiosity from Michigan State however selected to remain near dwelling at South Alabama within the Solar Belt Convention. In 4 years, he set faculty data in receptions (178), yards (3,140), landing receptions (22) and 100-yard video games (10).
It's work he began with Thompson and continues now that has gotten him so far. On the Cowboys' current rookie orientation, he was the final participant to go away the sphere, catching passes off the Jugs machine.
“I really feel such as you’ve acquired to do greater than everyone else if you wish to be increased or higher than everyone else,” Tolbert stated. “You’re to get what you set in, principally, so get 1% higher day-after-day. I’m seeking to put within the further work in order that it may possibly come again to me on the again finish.”
He additionally sought data from others. He watched YouTube highlights of, and even , certainly one of his new teammates.
In the summertime previous to his closing faculty season, Tolbert went to the Senior Bowl places of work and met with its govt director, Jim Nagy, a former NFL scout.
“The final yr and a half, he’s actually ready like a professional,” Nagy stated. “I feel that’s what made him totally different on this receiver class. I can attest to it. I can really feel actually good about saying that Jalen is admittedly going to have the ability to hit the bottom working. He actually dove into the tape research a part of it.”
Specifically, Tolbert checked out Tennessee cornerback, understanding he would wish an enormous recreation to reply questions on enjoying towards higher competitors. He caught seven passes for 143 yards towards the Volunteers final season.
However Nagy additionally picked aside a few of Tolbert’s recreation, too.
“We’re watching my Southern Miss recreation and he’s telling me, ‘Hey, I feel proper right here you'll be able to take yet one more revolution. You are able to do this and possibly get somewhat bit extra separation,’” Tolbert stated. “Me taking that from him, I can take to my recreation in observe and work on it.”
After assembly with Nagy, he labored out with former NFL receiver Yo Murphy in Florida, spending time with different present NFL receivers. Maybe a good larger profit to Tolbert was Main Applewhite turning into South Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2021 after two years as an analyst at Alabama.
Applewhite introduced over Alabama’s offense, and Tolbert discovered himself learning receiversand .
“So I used to be seeing how they had been maneuvering and the way they had been setting themselves as much as win on routes,” stated Tolbert, who completed with 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns on 82 receptions as a senior.
For the primary time, Tolbert lined up inside and outside, shifting across the formation. It opened his eyes extra to the whole image of an offense, and the Cowboys really feel comfy he'll have the ability to line up wherever they want him.
After the Cowboys drafted him, Tolbert stated Prescott despatched him a playbook.
“He’s instantly attempting to get each piece of fabric he can get and seize every little thing,” offensive coordinator Kellen Moore stated. “We’re like, ‘We’ll take this day-to-day.’ However you'll be able to inform he desires (to be taught) and values that. You’re going to win on this league with all the main points.”
With receiverrecovering from a torn anterior ligament in his left knee, the Cowboys will want Tolbert to be productive, particularly early within the season. It’s an enormous request of any rookie, particularly from a smaller faculty, however one they really feel comfy making.
“Frankly, one of many issues he made an enormous level of in our preliminary dialog was he’s fairly younger to the sport of soccer,” coach Mike McCarthy stated. “He hasn’t performed quite a lot of soccer. To me, that’s thrilling. Utilizing his phrases, he stated, ‘I don’t understand how excessive my ceiling goes to be, however I feel it’s going to be fairly rattling excessive.’ I used to be like, ‘Oh, yeah, you'll be able to see it.’”