Former Florida State defensive end Rick Leonard made the move to the offensive line this offseason, and the transition has gone about as well as he could have hoped. Leonard has been working behind Brock Ruble at right tackle for most of the spring, but he has worked with the first team at times at both right tackle and right guard.
Leonard thinks the transition has been just a little tougher than expected.
“It is what I thought it would be," Leonard said. "Maybe a little more difficult. It is one thing drawing it on a white board but getting bodies in front and stuff starts flying around …”
That doesn't mean that he hasn't adapted well. Left tackle Roderick Johnson has been very impressed by what he's seen from the former defensive end.
"...As far as Rick he just came over to the offensive line," Johnson said. "He learned the offense in five days and he’s very aggressive, very coachable and he’s always absorbing new things."
Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett is notorious for being hard on his players, but he's also a great teacher if a player is willing to put in the effort. Something that Leonard has been taking advantage of. Working at three different positions has helped him understand what he's being asked to do as well.
“...He’s had me at tackle and guard," Leonard said. "That really helped me learning the offense, playing inside and knowing what the person next to me is doing. I’ve played some center too which went well.”
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has also liked what he's seen from Leonard so far this spring.
"Good," Fisher said. "Rick is going to be a very good player. He's an athletic, big body. Rick can help us."
There is still plenty to work on for Leonard, and the footwork aspect of his technique has been the most difficult part of his transition.
“I would say footwork because it is such a technique-based position," Leonard said. "You take a wrong step and you’re screwed.”
Leonard does have one advantage over the other offensive linemen. He knows how to read a defense, and can make adjustments to what they're doing.
“Definitely," Leonard said. "Knowing how to read a defense helps a lot when safeties roll and when corners are coming.”
Leonard currently weighs in at 295-pounds, but is looking to be closer to 310-pounds by the time fall camp starts. Leonard has always been praised for his athleticism at his size, and, if he can keep that with the added weight, he has a chance to be a great offensive lineman.