For much of his life, adding weight was far too easy, and left him at 410 pounds after his sophomore year at Hunterdon Central High in Flemington, N.J.
Now, after re-shaping his eating and exercise habits, he is walking-on to Rutgers as a 6-foot-6, 260-pound offensive tackle.
"For the first time in my life I have to eat more than I'm supposed to," he said. "I completely retuned my metabolism when I lost all that weight. I have to figure out some way to gain weight and I haven't been able to do. I've been 260 for a couple of months. It's the first time I've been consistent with the same weight my whole life."
There was no Jenny Craig diet and no lap band surgery.
Instead, Leoni lost the weight through better eating and continuing to work out. At his lowest, he weighed 245 pounds.
"I retuned my diet," Leoni said. "I haven't had fast food in a year and a half. I woke up every morning and it hurt to get out of bed. I was sore every day before practice and I couldn't play that way. I had to do it."
One of the reasons Rutgers wanted him to walk-on was his potential, which will be markedly easier to reach since his weight is getting close to optimum for playing on the offensive line. He was playing at close to 400 pounds as a sophomore, and was 245 pounds during his senior season.
Leoni's lone scholarship offer came from Monmouth, and it was partial.
"I was recruited since I was a sophomore to come here, and everywhere I went, this is where I always felt I would wind up," Leoni said. "Another reason is I want the challenge."
Another option for Leoni was attending prep school for a year in hopes of impressing college recruiters, but he always came back to the same thing.
"I would have paid $50,000 for a year of prep school and ended up here at Rutgers," he said. "I figured I could come here, hopefully get red-shirted and spend five years here. This is where I wanted to be anyway."