Brian Leonard knows exactly what Greg Schiano wants from him. Leonard was once a Heisman Trophy candidate at Rutgers for Schiano before accepting a role to block for Ray Rice.
Now, Leonard finds himself in a similar position here to lead the way for Doug Martin. Knowing the expectations gives him an edge.
"Just because he was my head coach in college doesn't give me anything guaranteed," said Leonard. "So I've got to work. We have to win games to keep his job. I have to win to keep my job. So that's part of the business."
Leonard is competing with Peyton Hillis for a versatile role. What the Bucs are looking for is a running back that carry the ball, catch out of the backfield and block for Martin. It's a position that requires toughness and unselfishness.
"Physically, they have to have the traits to do it," Schiano said. "Then, I guess emotionally would be the word, they have to be able to come to grips that 'I'm used to running it, now I'm blocking.' And if you have the right person, it's not a problem, [but] if you don't have the right person, it is a problem. I think those two guys [Brian Leonard and Peyton Hillis] are willing to do whatever it takes to help us win, so we're in good shape there."
Leonard comes to camp in great shape and in the right state of mind to win the job.
"I feel like I'm a humble guy," said Leonard. "I'm a hard worker. I'm very athletic for the size I am. I catch the ball out of the backfield well. I pick up pass protections well and I'm a physical guy."
His self-description sounds a lot like the guy that use to wear #40 for the Bucs.
"He was one of my favorite players growing up," said Leonard. "I emulated him in college a little bit. Playing runningback, playing fullback. I always watched his game film and I watched him on TV all the time back in the day. I'm a big fan of his."
Leonard is working hard to earn a following of his own.
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