'06 Unwrapped: Leonard Gordon

With Stanford's returning scholarship safeties all concentrated in the junior class, it is easy to see the need to score at that position in the 2006 class. A name high on the board for the Cardinal, though maybe a new name for you, is Kentucky standout safety Leonard Gordon. He has strong offers back east, while keeping an eye out west on Stanford.

He started the 2004 season at Fort Campbell High School (Fort Campbell, Ky.) as a rover/outside linebacker.  A ravenously physical player who enjoyed attacking ballcarriers and the line of scrimmage, Leonard Gordon had a clear focus starting his junior season.  Then the Falcons dropped their opener, 13-7, on the road in Tennessee.  Some critical mistakes by Fort Campbell's free safety compelled their coach to make a big move on the defensive side of the ball.  Come their second game, the Falcons had a new man leading the defensive backfield.

"I wasn't expecting to play free safety at all.  That was the last position I thought I would play," Gordon admits.  "Coach said I was smart and could call the plays.  I moved to free safety the second game, and it wasn't hard to play at all.  I found that I was good at reading offenses.  It was a natural for me."

"Before that, our free safety just wasn't physical enough," he adds.  "Coach knew I was physical enough, and that I would get on top of the ball.  I've always liked to hit people.  As long as I can remember, I've been a linebacker - since peewee football.  Also, I'm fast and I'm a smart player."

Despite zero off-season or preseason preparation at the position, Gordon thrived at free safety the remainder of his junior season.  In total, he recorded 128 tackles and snared five interceptions.  The 5'10.5" 195-pound athlete has run a 4.52 40 and is one of the hotter safety prospects on the East Coast.

Gordon played a smattering of offense last fall, as well, scoring three touchdowns as a receiver.  For his senior season, he will grab the reins of the Fort Campbell offense, playing quarterback.

"I've never thrown a ball," he laughs.  "But I'm smart, and you only have to tell me something once.  Coach has coached me up pretty well.  We have a lot of option, play-action and rollouts."

The safety recruit has landed unsurprising offers from the two major in-state schools: Kentucky and Louisville.  But his recruitment has crossed borders, landing him additional offers from LSU, Penn State, West Virginia, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Duke.  Princeton and Yale from the Ivy League have also laid out the red carpet with their full force.

"It's been going great," Gordon says.  "This is so exciting.  Growing up you always think about playing Division I football.  Now I have that opportunity."

Though he has yet to receive an offer, Gordon is in communication with Stanford and is intrigued.

"It's a great school.  I've talked to a few of their coaches, and they seem like great guys.  I would like to get out there this summer," he comments.  "They have a great tradition, academically and athletically."

The Kentucky student-athlete carries a 3.8 GPA at the military base school, having taken a pair of AP classes in each of his last two years.  He has scored a 23 on the ACT, up from his first score of 20.  Gordon wants to take the standardized test again, shooting for a 26.

"Education is a top priority for me," he declares.  "I also want to be comfortable with the coaches.  You are stuck with them for four years, so I want to have a bond and be comfortable with them."

"I'm trying to narrow my choices this summer.  Nobody is out right now," Gordon maintains.  "I can't really say right now that I have any favorites.  There is no top three.  I think I'll end up having that by the end of the summer, hopefully."

One challenge for Stanford in recruiting a student-athlete like Gordon from across the country is of course distance.  The Kentucky resident, however, says he and his family have opened up to the idea of traveling for college.

"Location used to be a major deal.  I grew up in Florida and always dreamed of being there.  But now I've grown up," he shares.  "My parents have said they'll go where I go for college."

Gordon is a talented player and ranks as one of the best on Stanford's safety recruiting board.  The Cardinal have thus far extended only a single offer at the position, to nationally coveted Taylor Mays.  Gordon is an important recruit to watch, particularly if he receives an offer and/or takes an unofficial visit out west this summer.  We will keep in touch with the Bluegrass State standout and bring you his latest, as it develops.

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