"We are proud to bestow this honor on Brian Leonard," said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. "He represents an unbelievable group. We had 148 nominees of the greatest candidates ever nominated. Brian joins an elite group of past recipients who serve the perfect role models for all young players to emulate."
Highly regarded as one of the nation's premier fullbacks, Brian Leonard has
helped lead a renaissance with the Rutgers University football program. As the
Scarlet Knights made their rise to national prominence, Leonard also remained a
stellar role model off the field, collecting academic praise and playing a major
role in the community. A Labor & Employment Relations major, Leonard has claimed
Academic All-Conference honors three times and a spot on the ESPN The Magazine
Academic All-District First Team in 2005.
Leonard twice earned First Team All-America honors by Pro Football Weekly. A two-time First Team All- Conference selection, Sports Illustrated recognized him as one of the "most underrated players," contributing as a tenacious blocker and threat to run or catch the ball from the backfield. Leonard has rushed for 2,731yards and 1,862 receiving yards during his career. A 2006 team captain, he has been instrumental in teammate Ray Rice's Heisman Trophy push.
Active in his community, Leonard has participated in the American Cancer
Society's Relay for Life walk and Read Across America. A volunteer in the
opening ceremonies of the New Jersey Special Olympics, he has traveled to
several local hospitals to visit with children and hand out gifts. Leonard also
serves as a speaker for high school athletics events and football camps. He
becomes Rutgers' sixth National Scholar- Athlete and the first since Nathaniel
Jones in 2003.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program, which has awarded $8.3 million to 678 top athletes, the Draddy Trophy, first awarded in 1990, honors Manhattan College Quarterback and former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy.
Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. Leonard edged out 16 other National Scholar-Athlete Award Winners, who all took home $18,000 scholarships.