The Patriots are always looking to add depth in their secondary, and they once again dipped into the UDFA pool to sign Florida Atlantic University cornerback Cre'von Leblanc, a player with a history that is almost unbelievable. Leblanc overcame these challenges to be known as one of the best run-defending cornerbacks in the draft, and we all know that is a prerequisite to play cornerback for Bill Belichick.
Leblanc, as we noted before, had a tough road to get where he is today. When he was 15, his father had a heart attack while they were driving and he passed away. It was a life-changing moment for Leblanc, but not the last time he would deal with some serious adversity. Leblanc attended Glades Central High School in Florida and was one of the best players in the country, being recruited by a laundry list of schools. He finished his senior year with 75 tackles, five interceptions, one sack, ten passes broken up, three forced fumbles, and he returned both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. He was recruited by LSU, Marshall, Temple, Temple, Bowling Green, Florida International, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Nebraska, Central Florida, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Florida Atlantic. Leblanc had already received offers from LSU and Florida before everything changed for the worse.
On November 7, 2011, Leblanc and three other players from Glades Central allegedly performed sex acts with a freshman student in one of the school bathrooms, a decision that would haunt Leblanc, the other players involved, and the girl who performed the act. The girl denied that anything happened at first, but she eventually admitted what occurred. Her mother was convinced that is was assault, although the town mostly supported the players and felt like the whole situation turned into a witchhunt. The case eventually cost Leblanc his scholarship offers from top schools LSU and Florida, and most of the other schools that were looking at him decided to take him off their list. All of them removed him, all of them except one- Florida Atlantic University.
FAU was smart to remain patient and offer Leblanc a scholarship as he was ultimately cleared in the case. Leblanc was immediately inserted into the lineup, playing regularly in the nickel package before getting his first start against Georgia. He appeared in nine games as a freshman, totaling 30 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, one tackles for loss, and four passes defended. He also returned kicks, returning seven for 135 yards, an average of 19.3 yards per return. As a sophomore, Leblanc appeared in more games (11) but his production dropped off in a big way. He finished the season with 18 solo tackles, six assisted tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defended. Leblanc was also used occasionally in the kick return game, returning six for 149 yards, an average of 24.8 yards per return.
Leblanc had a strong junior season, making 55 solo tackles, 16 assisted tackles, one tackles for loss, six passes defended, and two interceptions. The FAU coaching staff decided to keep Leblanc off the kick return team and allowed him to focus on defense, although he did have three punt returns for eight yards. Leblanc had his most balanced and productive year as a senior. He finished with 30 solo tackles, 13 assisted tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 11 passes defended, and four interceptions. He was also featured on the kick return team again, returning 17 kicks for 387 yards, an average of 22.8 yards per return. Leblanc showed NFL scouts that he could defend the pass, either outside or in the slot, and he is more than willing to make plays in the run game.
New England does have good depth in their secondary, but Leblanc is not your typical small-school player, and all he did while he was at FAU was make plays. Leblanc never stepped down in big games, and when a player consistently flashes against the top opponents in the country, it can't be ignored. Cre'von Leblanc is a talented player, and the Patriots are going to find a way to either keep him on the roster or get him signed to the practice squad. With what Leblanc has overcome in his life, it wouldn't surprise me to see him make the final roster.
Highlights provided by Harris Highlights/YouTube.com
High School and College Statistics Provided by FAUsports.com/Cre'von Leblanc
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