Leak 'catches' on at TE

<!--Default NodeId For C.J. Leak is 1404427,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1404427]>C.J. Leak</A> spent all spring throwing passes but he'll spend this fall catching them.

Projected to be Tennessee's No. 1 quarterback, he swallowed his pride when freshmen Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge leapfrogged him two weeks into preseason drills. Determined to play somewhere, Leak agreed to move to safety and then tight end/H-back. He seems to have found a home at the latter as the Vols fine-tune for Sunday night's opener vs. UNLV.

''I'm an athlete first, man,'' he said. ''I didn't waste no time moving to safety; I just went out there and started hitting people. Now that I'm catching the ball it's no different. As long as I get to go out there and show I can play, things will work out.''

You'd think moving from quarterback to tight end (another offensive position) would be easier than moving from QB to safety (a defensive position). Leak says that isn't necessarily the case.

''Playing quarterback, you learn to understand defenses,'' he said, adding that he thought defensive coordinator John Chavis ''really wanted to get me on the field but they (Vol coaches) felt I could make a bigger impact quicker at H-back because we needed some athletic ability at that position.''

Packing 240 pounds on a 6-4 frame, Leak certainly has some athletic ability. He's a powerful runner who reportedly covers 40 yards in 4.5 seconds.

''Nothing against the other guys who are playing tight end because they can all catch the ball,'' Leak said. ''But I think I bring an element of speed there.''

Although he's still a quarterback at heart, Leak is enjoying his new position.

''I definitely like it,'' he said. ''I know all the plays but I'm still learning the techniques and fundamentals (of tight end play).''

Although he has played quarterback pretty much his entire life, Leak caught a pass during his days at Wake Forest. The kicker is: He also threw it.

''I threw one and (6-8, 280-pound North Carolina defensive end) Julius Peppers batted it back to me,'' he recalled. ''I caught it and tried to run, then Ryan Simms (another huge Tar Heel) hit me, so that wasn't a good feeling.''

Although he's new to tight end, Leak figures he's ready to get his feet wet.

''I'm preparing myself to play,'' he said. ''I definitely think I'm ready to play. I've been studying my butt off and I anticipate playing.''

Head coach Phillip Fulmer has been very complimentary of the classy way Leak handled his demotion from No. 1 quarterback. Leak says he's just glad to be with the team, whatever his role might be.

''I just appreciate the opportunity to play,'' he said. ''Who knows? Quarterback may work out for me somewhere in my future but right now I'm looking forward to playing H-back. The Big Guy in the Sky holds that answer. All I can do is go out there, give it all I've got and show I'm a football player and I can make plays.

''It's kind of fun, going out there and getting to freelance a little -- running around and showing people what kind of athlete I am. People will say, 'Ohhhh, I didn't know he could do that.' That's the good thing about it.''


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