Mike Tolbert was a undrafted free agent signed by the Chargers out of Coastal Carolina in 2008. At Coastal Carolina, he was mainly a second or third option in the running game for most of his career. Even in 2007, when he led the team in rushing, he only carried the ball 111 times for 748 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Chanticleers aren't known as a football powerhouse and don't get much, if any, TV time nationwide. So, little was known about the rotund running back from the Big South Conference.
Tolbert first made his mark on the Chargers by beating out Jacob Hester for the right to replace Lorenzo Neal as the Chargers starting FB. He received mixed reviews as a fullback and eventually lost time to Hester as the season went on. In his second season he recaptured the FB role, but also saw some carries as a running back. Many began to admire his rushing style as it reminded them of Natrone Means and the Chargers 1994 run to the Super Bowl.
This past season he got to show what that running style could do when the training wheels are taken off. He ran for more yards and carried the ball more times than he ever had (and that includes college). He scored 11 TDs and even added some decent receiving totals. He also delighted the fans with his funky dance moves. He was the beneficiary of 1st round pick Ryan Mathews missing time with injuries and fumblitis. However, Tolbert was not immune to either of those conditions himself. He equaled Mathews' fumble total by coughing the ball up 5 times including a couple key ones near the goal line. He also suffered a traumatic injury during the team's stretch run in which he was not able to leave the field under his own power. Also, like Mathews, he never seemed to pick up any long runs with his longest of the year being 28 yards.
Next season, the Chargers will most likely cultivate a role that continues to have him share the load with Ryan Mathews as they try to keep both backs fresh and healthy. However, we're not here to focus on what is to come, but rather what you think of Tolbert so far.