Florida will have to stop or slow down Jadeveon Clowney to escape Columbia with a victory. Could A.C. Leonard help the Gators do just that?
Scouting Report is a series that will run on Friday through the rest of the Florida football season, spotlighting players who could have major impacts on the Gators' games.
Finally, A.C. Leonard (Fr. TE) has shown up for the Florida Gators. Sure, he's just a freshman tight end, and behind Jordan Reed on the depth chart, and only made his first catch of his collegiate career last week against the Vanderbilt Commodores. But he's a player who we can be pretty sure will not be injured, and so here we are.
Leonard has the sort of size and hands that should make him an excellent possession tight end if he can fulfill his potential. He stands 6'2" and 245 pounds, so he can use his body to establish position and his hands to haul in passes, but shouldn't necessarily be counted on to outrun players in the open field.
Here are some of Leonard's high school highlights:
Leonard suffered a torn meniscus early in fall practice and was out until Tennessee; since, he's played in five games, missing Florida's losses to Alabama and Georgia, and has incurred more penalties than he has accrued catches.
This is where talking about Leonard gets dicier. He was one of the nation's top tight end recruits in the Class of 2011, and an early enrollee. But he transferred twice in high school, and there are some seriously unflattering rumors about why he did.
Add that as a nebulous "character concern" to Leonard's three penalties in his first three games and his missed game against Georgia (with what Will Muschamp described as a personal issue), though, and it's unsurprising that Leonard's been something of a disappointment so far. With Reed ahead of him and Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson both committed to Florida behind him, Leonard can't just expect to star in Charlie Weis' offense; he'll have to work for it. And early indications don't suggest that he's done that very well, which could explain some of the transfer rumors that floated about him this fall.
In Florida's Offense
Leonard's currently the second-string tight end, and that should provide him with opportunities to do things as both a receiver and a blocker. Whether he can take advantage of them or not, we'll see.
Projection Vs. South Carolina
I doubt very highly that Leonard will have more than one catch against the Gamecocks; John Brantley and the rest of Florida's quarterbacks seem happy to dump off passes to Reed.
For more, discuss Leonard and the Gators in the FightinGators.com forums.