MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Thursday begins the NFL draft, though opening night isn’t a pins-and-needles event for punters like Nick O’Toole. Only three have become first-round picks, though considering how Ray Guy turned out, a 33-percent Hall-of-Fame ROI is the best of any position.
Back to O’Toole, who might one day be the second punter in Canton. During three seasons as a Mountaineer, O’Toole blossomed into a special-teams icon, emboldened by his own hashtag, T-shirt likeness and, of course, an All-Big 12 certificate of achievement.
In his final pre-draft act of amatuerism (not to be confused with amateurish), O’Toole went on the record with MetroNews from his SoCal home. Here is the Q&A transcript from a young man perhaps destined to become the most famous West Virginian “Nick” this side of Saban:
MetroNews: Is it true you and John DePalma informed NFL general managers that you two are a package deal?
“We have talked to some scouts about that.”
Would you date a woman who couldn’t score double-digits on the Wonderlic?
“Ooooh, I don’t know. How well can she cook? That would be the deciding factor.”
If there was a mental assessment for specialists—let’s call it the ‘Wonderkick’—what sort of questions would it feature?
“How much can you bench? Obviously, that’s the No. 1 thing to ask. What would be your craziest experience as a kicker on the field and off? What do you do during practice? And what makes you different from any of the equipment managers?”
You wore No. 91 at WVU and at Fullerton College before that. It’s synonymous with you, like Jordan’s 23, Jackie Robinson’s 42 and Brian Scalabrine’s 44, 21 and 24. So, once you’re in an NFL camp, how will you convince a D-lineman to fork over that 91 jersey?
“I’ll have to talk with the league office about that one, because I don’t think we’re allowed to have 91. I think it’s 1 through 12 now. So I’d go for No. 1 because I’d have the first sport in the locker room, or No. 3 because Nigel Gruff from ‘The Replacements’ wore that.”
You’re familiar with another West Virginia punter, Todd Sauerbrun, who arrived at Bears camp in 1995 with a “HANGTIME” vanity plate. What can we expect to see on your car?
“I’ll probably take Uber there, so whatever the Uber license plate says.”
(Here O’Toole advocates for Uber finally being allowed to operate in the Mountain State: “It’s a great asset to everybody. I wish they would have had it the three years I was there. You sacrifice a lot of your life waiting 45 minutes for a taxi in 30-degree weather with 40 other drunk people who are belligerent.”)
Let’s get topical: Is Dana Holgorsen more like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton?
“I’d have to say Trump and Hillary combined. He’s like Trump in that he doesn’t care what he says—he’s just going to say it as loud as he can. And Hillary because she tries to get along with everybody and he does that too.”
Let’s get really topical: Prince or Red Hot Chili Peppers?
“Got to go with Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m a California kid.”
You referenced the California thing: Tell us one bit of West Virginia culture shock you experienced?
“California, at least where I am, it’s pretty flattish. There’s hills but nothing like West Virginia. Walking on campus and going to class after you’ve hit a heavy squat day, you might walk 5 minutes out of your way just to take the elevator instead of climbing three flights of stairs.”
What’s the bigger adrenaline rush: Surfing or riding the PRT?
“Uh, man … I only had a couple classes where I had to ride the PRT and it never broke down on me, so I’d have to say surfing. Thank God it didn’t break down on me, because doesn’t the air-conditioning shut off too? That would be bad. I’m a heavy sweater thanks to my mom.”
Is it true you might have been an early-round pick if not for those “Hang Time w/Nick O’Toole” videos on YouTube?
“(Laughs) I haven’t heard that, but you should go ask Mike Mayock.”
But seeing as how you hosted this video series, are you more likely to replace Skip Bayless at ESPN, or Michael Strahan on “Live with Kelly” Ripa?
“I read about that with Strahan—I feel like she was pretty bummed that he bailed on her. I’d probably go help her out. Give her a pretty face to look at.”
You can do one of these things: Cure global warming or re-kick against K-State?
“(Laughs) Re-kick against K-State. No hesitation at all.”