Draft Diary: Jason Leach

Fresh from a victory in the Orange Bowl, free safety Jason Leach of USC now begins to chase his dream of playing in the NFL. Throughout the course of the next four months the highly considered NFL prospect will be checking in and sharing his experiences as he prepares for possibly the most time in his life: NFL Draft weekend.

There was not much time for Jason to celebrate after helping the Trojans seal the national title after thumping  Oklahoma.  Having already graduated, he grabbed his pads upon arrival back at campus and headed north to take part in the all important East-West Shrine Game.  

All week long Jason will be checking in from practice at San Francisco Community College, letting us know how the events unfold.  But before that we asked him to give us a little perspective on his life; what he did as a youth, why he chose USC and what was his college experience like.  He gave us great introspective on his football life up till now.

I started playing football in the eight grade but only after my mom finally gave in to the idea . Before football I played soccer since the age of four; it was fun but I got to the point where I needed to tackle someone and not get a penalty for it! The other sports I played in high school were baseball and track. My football coach also gave me the idea of wrestling so I joined the team my last two years of high school. 

I went to USC because it was the team I always dreamed of playing for.  My defensive backs coach in high school also played for the Trojans which weighed heavily in my decision.  The only other school I considered was Oregon. And though it is a great school which really impressed me on a recruiting trip, my heart was set on SC. 

My playing experience at SC has been great. I red-shirted as a true freshman to concentrate on school and worked hard in the weight room. As a red-shirt freshman I mostly played on special teams but got in a few games when starter Deshaun Hill needed a breather. We went to the Las Vegas Bowl that year but did not have a good showing.

My third year at USC found me still on special teams and backing up both Deshaun Hill and Troy Polamalu . This was the season to take advantage of playing time. I started four games after Troy got hurt against Washington State. The biggest game that year was the Orange Bowl against Iowa when I had three tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery.

My red-shirt junior season I was the starting strong safety and we won a share of the national championship after defeating Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

I can easily say this final year at USC is the best team that I have ever been on. Just a week ago we won the Nation Championship after an undefeated season. In two years as the starting Trojan safety our team has only lost one game, and that was to Cal in 2003.

I've played and practiced against a lot of tough players during my college career.  I would have to say the Troy Polamalu and Matt Grootegoed are the toughest players in practice.  The best opponent I ever faced was Dallas Clark from Iowa, now with the Colts. The moment that really matters and will always be stuck in my mind is winning the National Championship. 

My first impression of the East/West game is that it is a first class event.  We were all picked up from the airport, taken to the hotel and fed of course! Then we had to take test for different teams and talk a little with scouts.

It is great getting to know not only the guys on my team but also players on the East team. My roommate is another safety,  Aaron Francisco of BYU who we played this past year. We already had our first team meeting with my "new" head coach, Mike Riley of Oregon State.

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