Ex-Gators Find Homes At HBCUs

After starting his career at Florida, AC Leonard has found a home at Tennessee State. 

While HBCUs struggle to find top tier talent at the FCS level, FBS schools are flooded with them. No where is this more true than the SEC, including schools like the University of Florida. Every year, hotshot recruits come to put on the blue and orange, hoping to shine on the bright stage. While some players achieve their goals, others have to move on to find their path to college football stardom. Check out what this foursome of former Gators is up to since leaving Gainesville.

A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State 
Leonard is currently one of the top tight ends at the FCS level. Leonard caught eight passes for 99 yards for the Gators as a freshman in 2011. Off-the-field issues preceded his transfer to Tennessee State. Since joining the Tigers last year, Leonard has been the team’s most reliable weapon in the passing game. The 6”4, 235 pound Jacksonville, FL native caught 51 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, winning numerous All-American honors. He currently has 22 catches and four touchdowns through five games for TSU.

Lynden Trail has become a two-way star for Norfolk State. (Mark Sutton photo)

Lynden Trail, Norfolk State

Trail was redshirted as a freshman in 2010 and never saw the field during 2011. Trail transferred to Norfolk State in the spring of 2012 and was a big hit in his first season. The 6’7 DE/LB recorded a team-high seven sacks despite starting just three games. This season, Trail has continued to play at a high level in 2013, recording 38 tackles and 4.5 sacks through five games.

De’Aunte Saunders has already had a big impact on Tennessee State’s defense.

De’Aunte Saunders, Tennessee State 

Saunders entered Florida with Leonard in 2011, and his career started off pretty solidly with 26 tackles and two interceptions in nine starts. Things started to go downhill after that, as he was arrested on marijuana possesion charges and suspended twice in 2012. He was rumored to be headed for Louisville but ended up following Leonard to TSU. The free safety has been a solid contributor, recording 18 tackles and getting his hands on five passes, including a crucial interception against Jackson State.

Willie Bailey, Virginia Union

At 6’3, 180 pounds, Bailey is the youngest of this group. Like Trail, he never saw the field at Florida, redshirting as a freshman and transferring the following semester. Like Saunders, he was headed for Louisville last spring before a change of plans led him to D2 Virginia Union. Five games into the season, Bailey leads VUU with 52 tackles and has broken up three passes.

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