Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Leonard looks to make most of opportunity

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming sophomore receiver David Leonard looks to get past senior safety Derrick McMahen during a recent practice.

By Richard Anderson
Wyoming Sports.org

Editor’s Note: Part of this story was published in a previous version of Wyoming Sports.org during spring drills.

David Leonard got a jump into the Wyoming starting lineup at Y (inside) receiver and punt returner with the recent shoulder injury to redshirt freshman Brandon Stewart. Leonard knows what Stewart is going through; he made a nice little comeback last spring of his own.

Leonard didn’t get the jump on spring ball that he would have liked. A sophomore from Overland Park, Kan., he had hernia surgery over the Christmas break and was slow to recover. He missed a few early practices with some complications and then struggled a bit in his return.
Leonard thought he had picked a good time for his surgery, but his recovery was much slower than anticipated because of his how he trained, running and cutting on routes. He said recovery has been a matter of being patient.

“You can’t do a whole lot when you are not 100 percent, because the guys you are competing out here with are all great athletes, great receivers,” Leonard said. “I rehabbed a lot and I am happy to be back.”

His doctor had some early concern that there might be another problem. He didn’t and after being checked out, everything was fine.

“He (his doctor) said I was going to be a little sorer,” Leonard said.

Yet, he just wasn’t’ feeling right.

“I sat out a little more so I could get ready and participate in the scrimmages,” he said last spring. “It’s feeling a lot better. I feel like I can run with these guys; I’m getting back to where I was.”

One of the top receivers out of Kansas in 2006, Leonard came to Wyoming and made a nice adjustment in his freshman season, with 13 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Penciled in as the starter at the H (inside receiver) position at the beginning of spring ball, Leonard looks to make a major contribution to a unit that is talented, but a little green.

“I’m trying to make more of an impact this season,” Leonard said. “I think we have a receiving corps that can do a lot of damage this season, a lot of things. I want to have more of a role, if that means from a leader standpoint or making plays on the field. I’m just trying to do my part and hopefully take the receiving corps to great success this season.”

While the Wyoming receivers lack a lot of experience, they don’t lack speed, led by Greg Bolling, Donate Morgan, Chris Johnson, Travis Burkhalter and Stewart, when healthy. Leonard said you can probably put him in the “possession receiver” category.

“I wouldn’t classify myself as a burner,” Leonard said. “But I hope the quarterbacks have confidence in throwing the ball to me because I have sure hands. That’s one thing every receiver wants. Hopefully, I can get some safeties with the stride, because it is a little deceptive when I run.”

He’ll get his chance Saturday against Ohio, as the Cowboys open the 2008 season at noon against the Bobcats at War Memorial Stadium.

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