Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Interview With UTSA Center Nate Leonard

I recently had the privilege of doing an interview with UTSA's starting center Nate Leonard. I asked him some questions via email & here's what he had to say:

Anton Joe: What is the one thing you absolutely love about football?

Nate Leonard: I love the comradery of the team or, as I like to call it, "the brotherhood dynamic." Just knowing that each and every one of my teammates have my back no matter what, and them knowing that I have theirs. There is nothing like the relationships that are built on a football team, and they last for a lifetime.

AJ: Do you have any superstitions? Any pregame rituals?

NL: I am a very superstitious person and always have been. When it comes to lucky clothing, I wear a pair of hot pink knee-high socks when traveling to games and on game day--up until the time I put on the game socks. I consider them lucky because I wore them on the weekends of the Tulsa and Tulane games--both huge wins for us.

When getting ready for a practice or a game, I always put on my gear from right to left. I always put on my right ankle brace before I put on my left ankle brace. I always put on my right sock before I put on my left sock. I always put my right leg in my pants before I put in my left leg...etc.

Before each offensive series, I knock on my helmet three times. I believe that it keeps me safe, kind of like knocking on wood. It has worked so far...knock on wood.

AJ: What's the story behind that awesome looking tattoo on your upper right arm? The one that looks like a lion.

NL: It is a lion in a shield, and it is awesome! It represents family, which is a huge motivation for me in everything I do in life. My last name means "Lion Hearted" and I take great "pride" (pun intended) in the fact that I take a lion-hearted attitude into all my endeavors.

AJ: You've started every game in USTA's short history. QB Eric Soza has started all but two of those games. What do you love most about playing with Soza?

I could sit here and write about all the things that everyone else writes about Eric and tell you that he a great leader and a great person, and he is, however I love playing alongside Eric because he is a playmaker. He has a knack to make explosive plays happen, and that excites the heck out of me.

AJ: Who is your favorite player to be around in the UTSA locker room?

I love being around the guy who lockers next to me, linebacker--Brandon Guerrero. He is wise well beyond his years and we naturally have a lot of conversations. He is one of those guys who you can go to with anything and he has awesome advice to give. He also has a great sense of humor. As we all know, practice is a grind, but conversations with Brandon before and after practice makes that grind a lot easier to manage.

AJ: Who is your favorite coach on the UTSA coaching staff?

NL: I have to go with the "old man," Coach Jim Marshall. Coach Marshall is my offensive line coach so I naturally spend the most time with him than any of the other coaches. He has a good dynamic with his players. He is all jokes off the field, but all business on the field, and that creates a powerful and productive relationship. My favorite thing about Coach Marshall is that he knows how to get the absolute best out of his offensive linemen.

AJ: You wrote a blog for the Huffington Post describing UTSA's 2012 season. How did that get started? Did they contact you? Did you contact them? How did it get rolling?

NL: Writing "The Diary of a College Football Player" for the Huffington Post was an absolute honor. The Huffington Post contacted our media guy, Brian Hernandez, in search for a writer who could articulately express the trials and tribulations of being a collegiate football player. I was on board from the start and ended up relating my trials and tribulations on the football field to my trials and tribulations in life. It is still an anomaly to me about how it all came about, but it was such a blessing.

(If you'd like to read Nate's blog posts, click here.)

AJ: Who's your favorite NFL player?

NL: I must admit that I am not a huge NFL fan, but I would have to say my favorite player is Cole Beasley. I played against Cole in high school as he was a senior at Little Elm while I was a sophomore at McKinney. Cole exemplifies the fact that hard work pays off and that football isn't always about size and strength, but about being a darn good football player. I see a lot of myself in him, and that's really what makes him my favorite player.

AJ: Favorite NFL team?

NL: As a Dallas boy, born and raised, I have to go with my Dallas Cowboys. We are still America's Team and that will never change.

AJ: What are some of the goals you have for the remainder of the 2013 football season?

NL: The goals that I have now for this team are the same goals that I wrote at the very beginning of August. We want a Conference USA championship and a bowl bid, and we are very much in the hunt for both of those.

Big thanks to Nate for doing this interview. You can follow him on Twitter @NateBoyNasty55. I hope to see him & the UTSA Roadrunners kick North Texas' butt next week! #GetRowdy!

Follow me on Twitter @antonjoe22!


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