Sophomore defensive end Rick Leonard has that dog in him. At least that’s what star defensive back and the leader of the Florida State defense Jalen Ramsey had to say about him after Monday’s scrimmage.
“Ricky Leonard, this is probably one of the first times I’ve heard him,” Ramsey said. “He’s really got that dog in him. Ricky Leonard is going to be real good.”
Leonard came to Tallahassee already looking like a monster at 6-foot 7, 250-pounds. Scout had him rated as a 4-star prospect and as the No. 299 player overall in their 2014 class. He was also rated as the No. 1 player in Maryland that year and came to Florida State with very high expectations.
In addition to playing football Leonard also played lacrosse in high school and that was what caught Jimbo Fisher’s eye when he evaluated him.
““We saw his film and were looking through that area,” Fisher said. “Actually we saw his athletic ability when we saw him playing lacrosse. You watch his football film and they had him playing lacrosse and his big body running and length. Then he came down to camp and you knew he was going to grow into a heck of a player.”
Leonard didn’t make an impact during his freshman season, only playing in four games and recording just one tackle. He also looked a little out of shape at the end of the season. However, since the season ended Leonard has been putting in the work in the weight room and is looking, and moving, much better than before.
“I’ve put on five to ten pounds since I’ve been here, but all my lifts have gone up,” Leonard said. “I’m looking forward to hitting it hard again after the spring.”
Coach Fisher has noticed Leonard’s hard work as well and says it’s because he wants to be great.
“Great competitiveness,” Fisher said. “Even when he’s blocked he’s so long and big, tipping balls and reaching over guys. Making plays. Ricky Leonard is going to be a heck of a football player. First and foremost because it means something to him. It’s very important to him to play, and he plays that way. He likes football.”
He’s instinctive,” Fisher said. He’s got things to learn and he makes mistakes but when he makes one it’s at full speed. He’s a smart guy.”
Leonard played defensive tackle in high school, defensive end last year, and has spent most of this spring at the buck linebacker spot that drops into coverage in the Dime package. Coach Fisher praised his ability to play nearly every position in the front seven.
“He can be a four, be an end, go in and be a three technique. He can be a three, four, five, six, seven, or nine,” Fisher said. “He can do that with his ability.”
Leonard will get plenty of playing time in the Spring game on Saturday with three defensive ends out. That will give the Florida State fans their first real look at his ability, but all he wants to do is go out there and do his job.
“I’m more focused on doing my job,” Leonard said. “Doing what coach Lawing asks me and coach Kelly. I’m no out there to impress anybody. I’m just going to do what I’ve got to do and play hard.”
This Florida State team has had its number of injuries this spring and a number of young players have stepped into roles with the first team offense or defense. Not many have made the most of it the way Leonard has, and if he keeps up the intensity he could be fighting for major playing time this fall.