You never know when you’re going to find diamonds in the rough. Oklahoma defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux is hoping he might have found one in the junior college ranks.
It wasn’t that long ago when Yuma (Ariz.) Arizona Western CC defensive end Matt Leo was back in his native Australia and didn’t know the first thing about trying to come to America to play football.
He’s not afraid to admit it.
“I was actually working as a plumber," Leo said with a laugh. “I was just doing my job and one of the guys I was working with knew a guy who helped Australian players get scouted. He knew how to help guys get to Division II and into some junior colleges.
“I had always wanted to play football in America, so I put together a combine tape and sent it along and here I am.”
Here is indeed. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound defensive lineman has been committed to Arizona since August, but the Sooners are going all-in to try to make him flip as junior college signing day approaches next week.
OU has made the right impression because Leo had a lot of suitors for this weekend’s coveted visit. Multiple Power 5 schools have offered in the last couple of weeks, but it sounds OU and Thibodeaux is the one he’s listening to the most right now.
OU has fared well in its 2017 class, except when it comes to defensive line. Leo could be a step in the right direction toward changing that.
The one thing Leo has stressed a lot is about his willingness to be coached. He knows he doesn’t understand everything. But if someone can help him get there, he’s more than willing to listen.
“I am looking for a team and a coach that can teach me the things that I need to be a great football player,” Leo said. “All I can really bring right now is the fact that I will work my tail off. I haven't had the coaching that a lot of other players have had since I grew up in Australia.
“Whichever coach wants to really take a chance on me and show me the things that I need to know, I will reward him with all that I have.”
Thibodeaux visited Leo earlier this week and was able to secure the visit. Listed as a defensive tackle, it does seem clear he would be a defensive end in OU’s system.