'Energizer bunny' Toney Hurd Jr. lends passion, energy to secondary
Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 21:09
Texas A&M defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. didn’t always have a reason to show off the ear-to-ear smile that has made him so popular among Aggie football fans.
Raised by a single mother in Missouri City, Texas, Hurd moved from one home to the next growing up.
“Growing up, I had it tough,” Hurd said. “My family struggled. I always kept myself motivated in school and on the field. I wanted to be great, no matter where I came from.”
Fortunately for both the Aggies and Hurd, the always-smiling student athlete consistently found joy in football. That passion shined through at Fort Bend Marshall High School where Hurd was an Under Armour High School All-American during his senior year in 2009.
As elite college football programs like Auburn, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee and Oklahoma arrived at his doorstep as a high-school senior, Hurd began to wonder if his new four-year residence needed to be closer to home.
He ultimately signed on as a member of coach Mike Sherman’s 2010 Texas A&M signing class and has yet to look back.
Flash forward and the senior has become the leader of a young A&M defense that has struggled through three games.
“Toney Hurd, he’s the leader of my group,” said defensive backs coach Marcel Yates. “He’s a guy that can do it on the field and off the field. He’s a guy that’s smart, he works hard. He’s a senior so he’s made plays. He’s the guy that has kind of done it all.”
Appearing in special teams opportunities as freshman, Hurd had to find his way onto the field. He made his mark as a sophomore in 2011, becoming the top backup in the Aggie secondary, recording 20 tackles.
Hurd emerged as a leader last season on an A&M defense that was doubted. He helped hush the naysayers with a career-best 67 tackles and four tackles for a loss. In the Aggies wild 30-27 win over Ole Miss in 2012, Hurd recorded the game-clinching interception.
“He understands the defense real well,” Yates said. “He’s a student of the game which is what you want as a coach. The more you can get him to be like you, the better we can be as a group.”
In the 2013 season, Hurd has been as important to the A&M team off the field as he has been on it. He has spoken at every team press conference this season and is among what Kevin Sumlin calls the team’s “leadership council.”
“This year, because of our leadership council we’ve tried to spread that role throughout the classes,” Sumlin said. “We have those classes vote on those guys and they are leaders.”
Hurd has earned his leadership badges by playing so many different roles — special teams specialist, cornerback, safety and, most recently, nickelback.
As a nickelback, Hurd is used as a fifth defensive back but acts as a linebacker. Known for his tackling, Hurd has settled into the nickelback roll since last season and can now focus on other aspects of the game.
“As a defense, just getting into our gaps and reading our assignments [is important],” Hurd said. “Things like that are the difference between a big win and a bad loss. It’s easy to watch film after the game and make those adjustments. It’s much harder during the game. As a team, I feel like we’ll get those things fixed.”
Described as the “energizer bunny” of the Aggie defense by defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, Hurd has been focusing on football as a career after Texas A&M.
“He wants to play pro, so what I told him was to give it all you’ve got,” Yates said. “That way if you don’t make it you can say, ‘I gave it all I got.’ And if you do make it, then great.”
An intelligent speaker, Hurd took to his personal Twitter account to voice his opinion before the Alabama game.
“Texas A&M is the university of Texas,” his tweet read after the Texas Longhorns lost to BYU on Sept. 7.
“I just feel like right now around Texas A&M we have a lot of swagger and confidence,” Hurd said. “I feel like we’re kind of taking over the state, recruiting, playing football. As a whole, we’re a pretty solid University.”
Texas A&M is a place Hurd said he feels passionately about and hopes the best for. That’s why he is on a mission to bring a national championship back home to Aggieland.
“I’ve been working hard and dedicating myself for a while,” Hurd said. “This being my senior year, I’d love to go out on top with a national championship.”