In college football you don't always have to go to a big time program to make a name for yourself and get the attention of NFL Scouts. You just have to be great where ever you play. The South Carolina State Bulldogs have a great one.
Down in Orangeburg South Carolina State is continuing preseason drills and senior linebacker Darius Leonard is gearing up for a big year.
He's the reigning MEAC Defensive Player Of The Year and he was recently named the league's preseason defensive player of the year.
People around the country are taking note. Leonard is also on the watch list for the Butkus Awarrd. He'll battle the big boys from the Division I FBS level as well as other studs in the FCS. With these kinds of accolades this is a player who will likely be the next Bulldog taken in the NFL Draft.
Leonard knows he'll be a marked man this year but that doesn't phase him.
"That's going to push me to be better than I was last year. It's good to have a little spot on my back so it's going to have to push me to make me better," Leonard said.
As far as getting the attention of NFL scouts and climbing up draft boards that surprisingly isn't a high priority for the senior linebacker.
"I'm really not too worried about that. I just want to go out and play every game like I'm supposed to. Play every play with 110 percent effort, nothing less, and let the chips fall where they are supposed to fall."
Longtime SC State Bulldog head coach Buddy Pough thinks Leonard fits the bill of an NFL caliber player.
"I'd like to think this guy can be a top round player, maybe another NFL-style kind of player. But the proof's in the pudding now, you don't have to talk about it very much. You can actually go out and do it so we'll see what happens."
We'll see what happens with Leonard and the Bulldogs this season. In fact Leonard will get a taste of what it's like to play on Sunday. The Bulldogs start on the road in Baton Rouge, LA for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge against Southern University on Sunday, September 3rd.