After a stellar career at South Carolina State University, HBCU Gameday is proud to announce Darius Leonard as our National Defensive Player of the Year. This award is sponsored exclusively by our partners at Protect Your Skull.
The South Carolina State linebacker is the back to back Defensive Player of the Year in the MEAC and favored by many to be selected in the later rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft. Leonard finished this past season with 114 tackles, 8.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions. The 6’3″236-pound star could turn even more heads once the Combine period begins and possibly improve his draft prospects.
Small town, Big Dreams
Everyone knows how great Leonard is now, but coming out of Lake View, SC it wasn’t as obvious.
“I was small coming out of high school and a lot of people kind of told me that I wasn’t going to be able to play at the next level as a linebacker. It’s a great honor to have these accolades come in to actually show guys that no matter what people said about me that I still have my drive going to actually push me to be a great football player,” Leonard told HBCU Gameday.
The legendary Buddy Pough, Leonards’ college coach, presented him with the trophy on campus at South Carolina State.
“I think he’s a deserving guy. He’s been not only a tremendous football player for us but he’s also been a tremendous person for us. We look forward to see where he goes in the future, we’re going to miss him big time,” Pough said.
Trophy and Donation
In addition to providing the trophy Protect Your Skull made a $500 donation to the athletic scholarship fund at South Carolina State.
“This has been a vision that God has given us from the very beginning our journey. The purpose is to impact HBCU Football to the highest. This is for all the HBCU legends that came before us and our goal is to endorse HBCU sports at the highest level,” said Tracey Suggs one of the co-founders of Protect Your Skull.
About Protect Your Skull
Protect Your Skull, LLC. is a concussion awareness brand. Former Fayetteville State University athletes Tracey Suggs and Foster Wilkins established the company in 2013. The entire sports landscape and the rules of the game in football, hockey, basketball and other contact sports have changed in order to protect players from collisions that ultimately lead to traumatic brain injuries. Protect Your Skull is the world’s first and only Concussion Awareness brand creating quality performance apparel for today’s athlete.