It's not easy switching positions, and it's even harder to switch sides of the football. That was what Florida State asked Rick Leonard to do. Leonard came to Florida State as a defensive end, and spent the first two seasons of his career on the defensive side of the ball. He really started to come on during the last two games of the 2015 season, but during the offseason he made the move over to the offensive line.
Leonard adapted quickly to the change, and was able to work his way up the depth chart during the spring. During spring practice he took first team reps at both right tackle and right guard before starting for the Gold team at right tackle during the spring game. He had his ups and downs, but looked to be right at home heading into the summer.
One area that Leonard had to work on was his weight. When he made the move to the offensive side of the ball he weighed just over 280 pounds. He spent all summer fixing that, and now weighs well over 300 pounds.
"Well, we talked yesterday and he told me he weighed either 310 or 314," Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He was 282, so about 30-32 pounds. At least he's happy when he sees me and he gets to eat what he wants..."
Fisher wasn't just happy with his weight gain though. He also praised his instincts at the position, and the way he handled the move.
"He's gotten big, he's gotten thick," Fisher said. "He's athletic, he's long, physical, smart. Even though we haven't been able to teach him, like I say, when those gray areas come up, 9 out of 10 times he falls in doing the right thing. There is a lot on to that when guys make those moves. I think he has a really good chance to be a good player for us."
Fisher isn't the only one that has been impressed with Leonard since he made the move. All-ACC left tackle Roderick Johnson praised the way he was buying in to the offense and offensive line coach Rick Trickett.
"He's very good," Johnson said. "For him to make the switch from defensive end to right tackle right now, he shows a lot of grit. He's buying in to the offense. He's buying in to coach Trickett's teaching. So he's going to be a really good player to watch out for."
Leonard started fall camp working with the second team during drills, but he will definitely be competing for one of the starting spots on the right side of the offensive line.