South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard distinguished himself in workouts and at Saturday’s Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Leonard was joined on the South team, which routed the North 45-16 Saturday, by North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker and Southern defensive back Danny Johnson.
Performing before over 1,000 scouts representing all 32 NFL teams, Leonard was reported to be one of the favorite players all week long. He was all over the field again on Saturday, recording a game-high 14 tackles, with five solo stops in the game. Several scouts likened him to Jaguars outside linebacker Telvin Smith for his speed and ability to get to the ball.
South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard was, by far, the springiest, most active linebacker in practice and was credited with 14 tackles in the game. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds with plenty of speed and athleticism, he has a chance to be one of the first few off-ball linebackers taken in this draft in a class without many sideline-tosideline second-level tackling-machines.
“Going against the bigger talent and showing the scouts and everybody that I can play with any competition,” Leonard told Fox Sports of the Senior Bowl opportunity, “and actually show that I’m a great player like any other big name or any other big-school guy.”
Leonard measured at 6-2, 229 pounds during the physical portion of the workout. He is a two-time MEAC defensive player of the year and a first-team selection on the 2017 STATS FCS All-America Team, totaled a school-record 394 tackles in his career. His sideline-to-sideline range made its mark in a big way Saturday.
Parker and Johnson both had good workouts and played in Saturday’s game but did not have the kind of accolades thrown their way as did Leonard. The NFL Draft will be held April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.