Leake Says Watch Out in 2004

Recently, we sat down with senior linebacker John Leake to get his thoughts on a number of subjects, but most importantly, we wanted to find out his thoughts on the direction of the football program. "I tell you what, this team next year, you better watch out," said the Texas native.

Talk about LeRoy Hill and his development at linebacker this year. This is a guy that really didn't play that much last season, and now he finished the year as All-ACC performer.
Leake: He's a great linebacker. He's quick; he reads the run well and always seems to be wherever the ball is. The first thing I think of when I think of LeRoy is 'relaxed.' That kid likes to sleep all the time and he's always tired. At least, that's what he'll tell you. He's a great linebacker though. He's a great linebacker and I'm happy that I've played with him.

What are your plans for Christmas break?
Leake: Well I get to go home until the 26th, and then I have to back in Atlanta then, so it will be nice to go home for a few days and relax. It's a big holiday, but to be honest, I'd rather play football.

Talk to us for a minute about the Peach Bowl; this is a bowl game that will be on national television during a timeslot that has no other bowl game. Does that excite you at all?
Leake: Oh yeah. It excites you because you can prove to the nation that you aren't a fluke. We improved so drastically after the Wake Forest game, but we have to keep it up. If we beat Tennessee, then I'd tell you that I feel like we had a decent season. You tell yourself, 'Hey, we are in a January bowl game against Tennessee.' I don't think it gets much better than that unless you are playing for a national championship.

Senior LB John Leake
Looking back over the season, what is the first thing that jumps in your head?
Leake: To tell you the truth, the first series against South Carolina. That's the first thing that popped into my head when you said that. We played as a team that game and just dominated them from the outset. We played as a team and played as one, and that's pretty big.

Has hit you that the bowl game is the last game of your career? You have to go back to Texas after this right?
Leake: It hadn't hit me yet, but hopefully I'll get the chance to play in the NFL and it won't truly be my last game.

What's your thinking on that? What happens after the bowl game in terms of you preparing for the next level?
Leake: After the bowl game, you can pick an agent. You don't have to, but you can. That's what normally happens and then you can stay here and train or go somewhere else and train and then find out about the combines and all-star games. I'm really looking forward to that- competing against the guys that people think are first round draft picks.

Are you one of those guys that will return back to Clemson in the coming years to watch some games?
Leake: Yeah, I'd like to come back and see how these guys do. I'll probably come back and catch a game or two, but I'm a Texas boy. I'd like to get back to Texas too.

Is there anything that stands out about the Tennessee offense right now to you?
Leake: Well, they play as a team. They are an I-formation team and we've seemed to play well against teams like that. They've beaten some big teams this year and they're 10-2, and they've got a really good quarterback. They are a great team, and it's going to be a real big challenge for us and a real big game.

Is this program in a better state now than when you first got here 4 years ago?
Leake: Oh yeah, there's no doubt in my mind about that. It wasn't in bad shape when I got here. We are on the rise. I tell you what, this team next year...watch out. Especially if they carry over this attitude right now. What do we have like 18 or 19 players coming back? It's going to be exciting to watch these guys, I can tell you that. This year, and this team playing as a whole and having us bounce back the way we did. That was huge.

Editor's Note
You have to take your hat off to John Leake, he's always been one of the best interviews in terms of just telling it how it is and not trying to sugar coat anything.

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