HBCU to Pro

Darius Leonard wins NFL Rookie of The Year, joins another HBCU legend in rare feat

Leonard

In less than a year Darius Leonard has gone from NFL hopeful to NFL Rookie of The Year, continuing the legacy of HBCU NFL overachievers.

Darius Leonard didn’t make the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but he did win something even more rare on Saturday night.

The South Carolina State product was named Associated Press NFL Rookie Of The Year on Saturday night after a spectacular first year as a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts.

Leonard led the league in total tackles (163) and solo tackles (111), and his seven sacks ranked second in the league among rookies. Not bad for a second-round pick who was widely labeled as a bad pick before he was even handed a uniform.

Here’s what he had to say after winning the award:

Man. My God is awesome, man. First of all, I’d like to thank Jim Irsay and the Colts organization for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love at the highest level. And I couldn’t do it as a linebacker — you know you cannot run free without your defensive line, and my defensive line played amazing all year, getting me free and allowing me to run around and make plays. So I appreciate y’all boys for allowing me to do my job.


And, you know, you’ve always got to have someone in your corner at all times, and you know, football is a very stressful sport at times, and I have a beautiful wife that’s in my corner, and she’s there every single day, through my long days, and she’s my biggest motivation, and I just want to say thank you to her for actually being by my side since Day 1. I love you.


And I want to give a huge shoutout to my mom. Because, you know, growing up, she had nine kids, working two or three jobs and trying to make ends meet. So I would like to show her for showing me how to get things done. Thank you, NFL, for this great honor, and I appreciate it. Thank you.”

Darius Leonard

Leonard became the first player from a non-FBS school to win the AP NFL DROY award since 1995. That year’s winner was Hugh Douglas, who competed in the NAIA with Central State.

The Lake View, SC product was the first recipient of the HBCU Gameday/Protect Your Skull Defensive Player of The Year Award. Congrats on making us look good, big guy!

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. LeRoy Robinson

    February 5, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    We are so proud of what you do on and off the field of play! Blessings for you and your family. “So hard to be a Bulldog”!

  2. Pingback: Add good samaritan to Darius Leonard's resume - HBCU Gameday

  3. Pingback: Darius Leonard randomly changes tire for SC woman | The HBCU App News

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

On the field. Behind the basket. In the pressbox. Bringing you HBCU Sports like you've never seen it before.

Copyright © HBCU Gameday 2012-2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from HBCU Gameday is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to HBCU Gameday with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To Top