Leonard with the Bengals in 2011
|No. 23, 40, 30|
|Born:||February 3, 1984|
Gouverneur, New York
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school:||Gouverneur (NY)|
|NFL Draft:||2007 / Round: 2 / Pick: 52|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Leonard committed to play football at Rutgers University in August 2001. As a high school senior he was a 3-star (out of 5) recruit, according to Rivals.com, and had scholarship offers from several prominent schools including Penn State University and Syracuse University. In track & field, Leonard competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the long jump. He posted impressive wins in both the 100 and 200 at the Section VII/X Track and Field Championships. Leonard was a four-time honor roll student. In high school, he was projected to play linebacker at the next level. Leonard largely credits his brother, Nate Leonard, for why he chose Rutgers.
Nate was also recruited to play football in college before injuring his knee. Unlike other Big East and ACC teams who stopped recruiting him as a collegiate football player due to his injury, Rutgers then-coach Terry Shea honored his scholarship offer to the elder Leonard brother, and Nate Leonard came to Rutgers to play football. Brian valued Rutgers's loyalty to his brother and ultimately decided to play football at Rutgers.
Beginning in his sophomore campaign, Leonard became known nationally for hurdling over would-be tacklers. During the opening game of the 2005 campaign in Urbana-Champaign against Illinois, he brought himself to the attention of sportscasters and pundits in the third quarter, taking a pitch from quarterback Ryan Hart on a 2nd down and 4 play from Rutgers's 17 yard line. Running left, Leonard hurdled over the top of a waiting linebacker at the 24 yard line and ran 83 yards for a touchdown in an ultimately losing effort against the Illini. The play was named the top college football highlight of that season's opening weekend by ESPN. In 2006, he was promoted as a Heisman Trophy candidate. A video clip of Leonard, concluding with the slogan "Leonard for Heisman," was aired on the NBC Astrovision screen in New York City's Times Square. Despite being acknowledged as a Heisman candidate, Leonard elected to take on a diminished role as a blocker and allow Ray Rice to become a star. He was also named starting fullback on the 2007 Senior Bowl North Squad, where he finished with 16 yards rushing and 13 yards receiving, 3rd overall on the team in total yardage.
In the Rutgers record books, Leonard finished his career ranked fourth all-time rushing yards (2,775), fourth all-time rushing touchdowns (32), sixth all-time receiving yards (1,864), first all-time receptions (207), tied for fourth all-time receiving touchdowns (13), second all-time all-purpose yards (4,639), first all-time combined touchdowns (45), and first all-time career points scored (272).
He graduated with a degree in labor studies.
As an NFL prospect, Leonard was targeted by almost every draft expert and website to be the top fullback (as well as one of the higher-ranked halfbacks) and most likely will be playing a hybrid halfback / fullback / H-Back position in the pros. Leonard was projected as a day one selection, as high as the first round. In their pre-draft speculations. At the 2007 NFL Combine Leonard was timed at 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, which is exceptionally fast for a fullback and above average for a running back; also, bench pressed 225 lbs 28 times (most of any running back). NFL Network's Mike Mayock had Leonard ranked as the #4 running back in the draft. SportingNews says of Leonard that he was "misused as a traditional fullback... would prosper in a one-back set..."
|Height||Weight||40-yard dash||10-yard split||20-yard split||20-yard shuttle||Three-cone drill||Vertical jump||Broad jump||Bench press|
|6 ft in
|10 ft 2 in
|All values from NFL Combine.|
On April 28, 2007, Leonard was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the second round with the 52nd overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Leonard signed a four-year, $2.8 million contract on July 24, 2007, that includes $1.55 million in guaranteed money. Coach Scott Linehan decided to use Leonard as a fullback, running back, and a special third-down back, in relief of Steven Jackson. Linehan also stated that Leonard would see 15-20 snaps per game. In rookie training camps, Leonard was one of only two running backs, the other being Brad Lau. "We only have two backs right now so I am running in single back and halfback so I will be the running back unless we get another running back in here," Leonard said. "It's nice to get the reps, but it is tiring." Leonard ran for the Rams first touchdown of the year against the Minnesota Vikings in preseason on August 10, 2007. He had his first 100-yard rushing game, typically a milestone amongst running backs, on October 7, 2007 at home against the Arizona Cardinals.
Leonard was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals on May 7, 2009 for defensive tackle Orien Harris. His struggle for a roster spot was chronicled in the HBO series Hard Knocks with several parts focused on the battle between Leonard and DeDe Dorsey for the final running back spot.
Over the course of 2009 season, Leonard didn't see much rushing action because the team was using Cedric Benson as their primary running back and also signed Larry Johnson, limiting the number of Leonard's rushing attempts. However, he has often been targeted on third- and fourth down passing plays and has made several key conversions for the Bengals. For example, on September 27 in a game against the defending Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers, Leonard caught a pass from Carson Palmer on 4th down, converting for the first down with 31 seconds left, extending the eventual winning drive. On December 27, he recorded an eight-yard reception in a 3rd-and-7 situation to keep what would eventually be the game-winning drive against the Kansas City Chiefs alive.
Leonard was brought in by multiple teams during training camp in 2014, but failed to secure a roster spot. Eventually, he signed with the New Orleans Saints on November 12, 2014, but was released one week later.
Leonard has been active in the community, especially doing considerable work with children. In 2006, Peter King wrote an article in Sports Illustrated selecting Leonard as his personal candidate for Sportsman of the Year, due to Leonard's on- and off-field accomplishments. Leonard currently resides in Morristown, New Jersey.
Since its inception in 2009, the Brian Leonard Football Camp has brought young football players together with skilled coaches and NFL pros to provide a learning experience to improve participant play and provide recruitment opportunities. The annual camp is held at Sandstoner Park, in Potsdam, New York which is close to Brian's hometown of Gouverneur.