2011 Intro: Marcus Leak

MONROE, N.C. --- Marcus Leak gave his recruiting stock a huge boost a couple of weekends back. At the Nike Combine held in Charlotte, he posted the day's top SPARQ rating.

"I was just going out there trying to do my best and hoping I had one of the highest scores of the combine," Leak said. "It turned out to be the top one."

Leak recorded a 117.30 SPARQ rating, which is a scoring system designed to measure football-specific athleticism by combining results in four combine tests. To put that number in perspective, 1,026 recruits participated in the Charlotte combine and only 13 (1-percent) had a SPARQ rating over 100.

At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, Leak recorded a 4.67-second 40-yard dash, a 4.31-second 20-yard shuttle, a 41-foot-5 power ball toss, and a 37.4-inch vertical jump.

Nelson Rowell, Parkwood's head football coach, wasn't surprised by Leak's performance.

"I've coached some good athletes in my 18 years, but he's the most natural and the smoothest I've ever coached," Rowell said. "If he takes care of his grades, gets in the right program, I think he could play on Sunday afternoons… That's why I pushed him to go to this Nike Combine, because people who don't know who you are, are going to know after this."

Rowell, though, was slightly disappointed in Leak's 40-yard dash time, which was conducted on turf and timed digitally. Rowell says he has personally clocked Leak at 4.37 seconds.

With the combine performance, Leak now has a shot at being selected for the top 20 combine in Portland and the Under Armour All-American Game. Additionally, Leak has seen a drastic increase in recruiting interest.

"South Carolina called yesterday," Rowell said. "Chapel Hill called me yesterday. I think Clemson is getting ready to make an offer.

"NC State is close to offering. The only reason they are holding off on their offer [is Leak's speed]. When they find out his true speed, they're going to offer."

A couple of weeks before the Nike Combine, Maryland became the first school to offer Leak.

"It came out of nowhere," Leak said. "Maryland had gotten my film and said they liked it. A week or two later, they offered."

Besides the aforementioned schools, Leak is fielding varied interest from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Marshall, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Just about every school is projecting Leak as a wide receiver. But there has been some mention of safety.

Rowell believes Leak could excel at safety and even cornerback, but that his best fit is wide receiver.

"Some of the catches that he makes are uncanny," Rowell said. "He has an ability to go up and just hang in the air. It's just something to see. His cuts, his breaks on the ball, and his hands – his hands are huge and they are so strong. When he goes up he comes down with the ball."

Leak played sparingly at free safety last season.

"He'll cut you in half coming across the field," Rowell said. "He's a thick, physical kid and he has that vertical and speed to go with it."

Much of Leak's junior season, though, was plagued by a high ankle sprain. Despite missing four games, he led Union County – which included Division I-A receiver recruits K.J. Brent, Duke signee Issac Blakeney, and Jamison Crowder – in receiving (25 catches for 621 yards and eight touchdowns). He also returned a punt for a touchdown.

As a freshman, Leak was the starter in Parkwood's three-receiver sets and rotated with two seniors in its base I-formation.

"He was almost as good as [the starting receivers]," Rowell said. "They were just stronger than he was at that time."

Leak's sophomore season, though, was his breakout campaign. He had 27 receptions for 612 yards and nine scores.

Football isn't the only sport Leak excels at. He's also an all-conference basketball player, who averaged a double-double last season. Last spring, he placed fourth in the state in the high jump with a 6-foot-4 jump, which is a Parkwood record. He also runs the 100- and 200-meter dash and is part of the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.

Football is in Leak's blood. His father played at Catawba and his older brother, Maurice, signed with the University of Charleston last February.

This Saturday, Leak will make his first recruiting trip since last summer when he attends South Carolina's Junior Day. He also plans to attend a spring practice at Maryland and a junior day at Clemson.

Leak doesn't claim any favorites.

"They're all equal right now," Leak said. "Maybe in the next month or two I'll sit down and pick out a couple schools and just focus on those schools."

Marcus Leak Profile

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