Marcus Leak Offers Up Hope For The Fall

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. It’s all you heard, to a man, when Terps coaches and teammates alike (shoot, even Marcus Leak himself) considered the star-crossed Terps rising senior receiver after his monster game Saturday in the annual Red-White Spring Game at Byrd Stadium as camp came to a close.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

It’s all you heard to a man when Terps coaches and teammates alike (shoot, even Marcus Leak himself) considered the star-crossed Terps rising senior receiver after his monster game Saturday in the annual Red-White Spring Game at Byrd Stadium as camp came to a close.

But will he ever have it?

The former four-star recruit out of North Carolina has been dogged during his Terps career by everything from personal to academic issues, and even this spring camp his play was spotty with probably as many drops as catches mixed in most days at camp.

At 6-foot, 210-pounds and among the team’s biggest and strongest athletes, Leak has more times than not underachieved during his UMD career. And two seasons ago he went home and took a redshirt year to get his own personal house in order.

After a strong start last season (see USF, Indiana, but not much more after that), he faded, and barely even played in the bowl game against Stanford. And if ever there was a time to thrive it would be this coming season, when he and other Terp wide-outs hopefully replace the likes of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long in the Terps’ air attack.

Last Saturday’s bust-out performance, when he snagged six balls for 135 yards and three touchdowns (and could have had a fourth had QB Perry Hills not badly missed him open down the left sideline in the first half) gave the Terps a sampling of what he can do when Leak is focused and on-track. That’s if he remains on track, as he often seems like a guy living on the edge.

On his first, a 26-yard athletic catch and run, Leak either made defenders miss or broke tackles (3) en route to a pinball-like, video game run to pay-dirt that Hills had tossed for the game’s first score at 7:58 in the first quarter.

Leak, whose right arm must have been worn out Saturday after being the most popular Terp at the autograph tables, took forever to arrive to the media interview area because of his new-found popularity.

“I don’t think I have. Can’t say I have,” Leak said with that smile of his of the most sigs he’s ever signed. “I just wanted to come out and execute, cause some big plays, and of course have some fun in the spring game.”

On the first score, it was a play with the receivers on vertical routes, but Leak had a shallow route across the defense.

“I caught the ball and tried to get up the field as Coach teaches us to do. And I broke a couple tackles and got in the end zone,” Leak said.

On his second, Leak caught a busted play, up in the air, which Leak made a play on for a 3-yard score in goal-line at the 10:08 mark of the second for a 14-3 Red team lead, a throw also from Hills. His third, also from Hills, was a 28-yarder with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter for a 21-3 Red lead, while he wasn’t done yet as he hauled in a 51-yard catch and run a series later, also from Hills. Of the other scores he said, “I just remember celebrating with my teammates, and that’s what you come out to do, try and have fun.”

Said Terps senior running back Brandon Ross, after a few big plays of his own that afternoon:

“Oh, he definitely had a big day. Marcus has always been a playmaker. I mean I think really it’s just mental with him, too, because when he sets out to do it he can do it,’ Ross said. “But he’s big and physical, so he’s definitely a weapon.”

Leak said listening to the coaches and getting in the film room more is what he needs to do to take his game to the next level as an impact player in 2015.

“I take what they say to heart and I try to improve on that,” Leak said of awaiting this week’s post-spring coaches’ grades and one-on-one meetings.

Leak said the new receivers group came together more this month in spring camp. The group was missing a few players, notably sophomore speedster Taivon Jacobs, with injury.

“That’s the purpose of the spring, you want to practice and go out and give your all,” Leak said. “And towards the end of the spring we started gelling together. And you want to just keep at it throughout the off-season and summer workouts and when you come back in camp, and keep improving every day.”

Leak is strong, fast, and physical when his game is on, and he has big hands. But it seems he always has the “little things” to improve upon when it comes to that consistency factor.

“I mean, no one’s perfect. I feel like everyone needs to improve mentally and physically so we can be the best team that we can be,” Leak said.

He said with increased film work he can try to play “even faster.” And as for Terps receivers' coach Keenan McCardell’s main message to him the last two years, well it’s an easy one:

“Consistency. That’s basically it, consistency,” Leak said of what McCardell tells him each day.

And looking at the receiver group as a whole in 2015, senior Levern Jacobs will likely be the “go-to” guy, coming off a year’s suspension, but Leak has the ability to challenge for that, or at worst be the No. 2 option, if he stays focused both on and off the field, Randy Edsall said after the game on Saturday.

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