“Obviously he’s a jumbo guy – some people get a lot of them, but we don’t,” Asheville head coach Danny Wilkins said. “Pete’s a true offensive lineman. He’s got good feet and they’re getting better. Strength wise, he’s right on track to where I think a 17-year old with his body should be. He has a lot of natural strength.
“The potential here is off the charts. Pete’s not anywhere close to where I think he’s going to be. He’s a good player right now, but I think he has the potential to be a great player. I think the sky’s the limit, because of his frame. He’s a smart kid. He’s a coachable kid. He wants to learn, he wants to know more.”
Asheville employs an I-formation scheme that is tight end oriented and will flip its offensive line based on the strength of the formation. Leota has started at strong-side tackle since his sophomore season.
“Most people that run the ‘I’ would tell you that [strong-side tackle] might be the most important position up front,” Wilkins said. “… When it’s crunch time, we’re going to run behind our best people and right now that’s Pete.”
Leota made his second visit to North Carolina – his first since his sophomore season – on Saturday. He attended the Tar Heels’ Junior Day which was held in conjunction with its nationally televised basketball game against Duke.
“It went great,” Leota said. “I loved the visit. I loved the coaches, especially Coach Kap [Chris Kapilovic] – he was always there right next to me asking me questions. I see him as a caring type of guy if I go there.
“The activities really stood out to me, like the corn hole game and then meeting the coaches one-on-one. I liked going into the locker room and taking pictures with the jerseys. It was just real awesome.”
Leota has also made visits to Boston College, Clemson, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. He says Saturday’s visit was one of his best experiences.
“I really like it a lot,” Leota said. “It changed my mind a lot about things. I didn’t really visit campus that much [when I visited previously], but when I came up there [on Saturday] and saw the student body and I saw the coaches it just changed my mind a lot about my decisions.”
Leota says his top three schools are Boston College, UNC, and Virginia Tech. All three have offered plus East Carolina and Wake Forest.
According to Wilkins, UNC has reciprocated the interest.
“They want him bad,” Wilkins said. “I’ve talked to Coach [Larry] Fedora. I’ve talked to a couple of other guys from there that have been in and out of here. I haven’t seen their board, but based on what they’re saying [Leota] is at or near the top.”
UNC is recruiting Leota purely as an offensive lineman – the staff hasn’t classified him as either a tackle or guard. The Tar Heels’ staff isn’t alone in finding difficulty with categorizing Leota.
“It depends on who you talk to,” Wilkins said. “Some are saying that he’ll be a guard and others are saying ‘We think he’ll be a tackle.’ I think it will get down to whatever their specific needs are at the time wherever he chooses to go. I think he’s athletic enough to play either.”
Extra Notes Leota moved to Asheville from Samoa when he was nine years old… In middle school, Leota wrestled and participated in the shot put and discus, but has focused solely on football in high school… Leota’s dad excelled in rugby and according to Wilkins “he looks like he could still play.”… Leota plans to major in business in college.