To Iraq and Back for LBer Freeman

As he toiled in the Middle East, serving in Iraq, all Leon Freeman thought about was playing football again. "That was my whole motivation. That's why I was in there (the U.S. Army). When I was over in Kuwait, Iraq, I thought about playing football," said Freeman.

When he was discharged in the fall of 2004, he was turned onto Mesa (Ariz.) CC.  And five seasons after he last played a down of football, Freeman was back playing the game he loved.

"I played a year of basketball, a year of baseball, but I played football my whole life.  It kept my life straight," said Freeman.  "I wasn't qualifying out of high school, so I chose the Army.  I didn't want to risk it.  I didn't want to throw my life away.  So I spent three years in there.  I was stationed in Kansas, and then went to the Middle East.  I was in Iraq for 5.5 months.  Man, the heat was tough."

Returning to the game in the 2005 season, Freeman put together a solid freshman season, recording 60-plus tackles and seven sacks.  And the return to the game is already paying dividends.

"I have a full-ride offer from UTEP.  I'm also hearing from Washington State, Texas A&M, Southern Miss, Iowa State and UNLV," said Freeman.

Standing 6-2, 230 with his forty in the 4.47-4.53  range, Freeman figures to have a strong sophomore season, which could make the offer list grow.

"When I was in the Army, I just wanted to get that free education, pay my dues," said Freeman.  "This is what I looked forward to."

Freeman prepped at Vero Beach (Fla.) Senior High.  A friend of his in Florida knew some people in Arizona.  He was discharged in September of 2004 and came out for a visit in December.  The following spring, things were set in motion, allowing him to return to the game he loved.

Now as he prepares to play his final season at Mesa, he's also looking forward to finishing his A.A.

"I'll graduate in December and sign then and be somewhere in January.  I want to take all of my visits, though, before I sign," said Freeman.

Though he's a Florida native, he's heard very little from any schools from there.

"I looked in UCF, but I don't think I'm going to go back to Florida," said Freeman.  "My family is just behind me whatever decision I make.  They know I'll do what's best for me and they're behind me 100%."

Earlier this spring, Freeman was selected to the All-Arizona Combine team after running a 4.53 forty, a 4.21 shuttle, jumping 36.2 inches and doing 24 reps at 225.


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