(STATS) – The Indianapolis Colts are switching to a 4-3 base defense this season and second-round pick Darius Leonard from South Carolina State believes he’s perfectly suited for it.
He even feels he can play any of the three linebacker spots.
“I think in the 4-3, that will free me up a lot and I will be able to run around,” Leonard said.
That’s what the two-time MEAC defensive player of the year did in college, tracking down 394 ball carriers to set the South Carolina State career record. Nineteen tackles came in a 2016 game at Clemson, his first college choice, because he wanted to follow his half-brother Anthony Waters.
After a scholarship offer didn’t materialize at Clemson, Leonard decided to go downstate to South Carolina State, and he quickly realized it was a great fit because of its rich football tradition, which includes three former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When the Colts made the 6-foot-2, 234-pound Leonard the first FCS player selected in this year’s draft – at No. 36 overall – he became SCSU’s sixth draft pick this decade. That’s third-best in the FCS.
And now the first-team STATS FCS All-American feels the Colts are a perfect fit.
“Athletic, quick, fast,” Leonard described his playing style. “Somebody who is quick and fast and will come downhill and hit you.”
Said ESPN analyst Todd McShay: “He’s one of the most underrated players in this whole draft.”