One of Maryland's Finest

Leon Kinnard heard the rumor, but the talented athlete from Loyola High in Baltimore, Md., quickly shook it off with a laugh.

"Actually there is a rumor going around that I'm transferring to River Hill, but I'm staying," Kinnard said.

Jordan Love has decided to leave Gilman School for River Hill next fall. He will join Michael Campanaro, Malek Redd and Leron Eaddy. Leon Kinnard played youth football for the Columbia Ravens in central Maryland with those four, but never had any thought of joining them for his final prep season.

"I'm happy at Loyola," Kinnard said. "I don't have a problem with the coaching staff or anything.

It's easy to see why Kinnard is excited about his upcoming senior season. The 5-foot-9, 182-pound standout has quarterbacked his team to two straight league titles. While Kinnard plays signal-caller on the prep level, every program with the exception of one, is recruiting him as either a receiver or cornerback.

"Connecticut offered me on Friday," Kinnard said. "They offered me as a quarterback.

"Even coach (Randy Edsall) said he is probably the only school that is going to offer me for quarterback. I didn't think they were going to offer so soon. I talked to (offensive coordinator) Robert Ambrose, and he told me if quarterback didn't work out, and I'd have to prove to them I can't play the position, they have a backup plan for me on the offensive side of the ball."

Kinnard and his Loyola head coach Brian Abbott feel that Maryland could offer at this Saturday's junior day. Pittsburgh, Boston College, Virginia and Syracuse have been recruiting him hard. Notre Dame has Kinnard on its radar.

"I received a junior day invite," Kinnard said. "I'm still deciding on if I'm going to go. It's either them or Pittsburgh, but I think Pittsburgh is really interested so I'm going to head up there I think."

Irish assistant coach Ron Powlus went by the school about a month ago to meet with Abbott and scoop up film and transcripts.

"I didn't get a chance to talk to him, I was in class," Kinnard said. "My coach didn't pull me out of class.

Kinnard is hoping for some more interest from the Irish, before deciding to see the campus for the first time.

"Even though they didn't have a good season last year, they had a top recruiting class this past year and will be on the rise next year. They have great academics, and I'd like to be a part of that."

This past season, Kinnard threw for 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading his team to a 9-1 record and championship. He also ran for 500 yards and 10 more scores.

As a sophomore, Kinnard threw for 1,415 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also found pay dirt 11 times on the ground, as Loyola went 10-1.

"His ability to lead," Abbott began. "He showed that starting at quarterback as a sophomore with a team of seniors. He was still able as a tenth grader to take on that leadership role. Even as a young player, when a play needed to be made, he makes it, and if it doesn't go well, he is willing to be held accountable, which is a rare quality in youths today.

"His ability to take a broken play and make it a good play. He's got outstanding feet and quickness and explosive ability. He can jump. Great speed. On top of that, he's just not a clock and weight room guy, he's a football player.

"He is doing very well academically at a tough Catholic school in Baltimore." Kinnard has a 2.8 GPA. "I think our average SAT score over the two parts is a 1220."

Kinnard played a few snaps of defense this past season, but a pulled hip and a sprained ankle relegated him to just quarterback.

"(Colleges) like my quickness, and I have great vision of the field," Kinnard said. "Quarterback really helped my vision out a lot, and then also I'm an athlete and I can play either side of the ball."

Kinnard has been working three days a week with Joe Haden, who has recently sent two sons to Florida and Boston College respectfully. A few of Kinnard's friends from River Hill also work with Haden.

With the help of Haden, Kinnard reported that he recently ran a 4.36 40-yard dash. The best 40 he has run at a camp is 4.43. Kinnard can also bench press 285 pounds, and squat 440.

In January, Kinnard participated at the U.S. Army National Combine, held in San Antonio, Texas, showcasing some of the nation's top juniors.

"I think I did alright," Kinnard said. "Besides the 40, the track was slow, I ran a 4.6, I got 34-inch vertical, and a 4.27 shuttle. I played receiver down there and did pretty well. I was trying to make the position switch now, and try different things out. I'm being recruited as an athlete so I tried offense down there, but from now on I'm trying d-back at all the combines I go to."

Kinnard isn't sure when he is going to make a verbal commitment, but could decide quickly if the situation is right.

"First, I have to make sure a school has my major, which is athletic training," Kinnard explained. "The next step in looking for a college is the football program, making sure the coaching staff will be there and the contract lasts while I'm in college. And the atmosphere will be the final part in making my decision. I have to see if I can live there the next four or five years of my life." Top Stories