Leahy to anchor Wildcats athletic line
For the better part of his football career at De Soto High School, Tyler Leahy was a man without a permanent home. But now, in an attempt to get the best players on the field, Wildcat coach Brad Scott has found the perfect spot for him -- the offensive line.
"Tyler is one of those guys we've bounced around and bounced around to see where we could use him," Scott said. "But we've become smarter and finally figured it out as coaches. It's just too bad we've waited until his senior season to find the right spot for him."
Scott asked Leahy last spring if he'd like to help the team in another way. Leahy responded in a routine, unselfish manner and accepted the challenge before he even knew the new position.
Leahy's move from quarterback to the offensive line came about when the Wildcats decided to implement a veer-option attack.
The new offense takes advantage of the running talents of sophomore quarterback Neil Erisman.
Scott contacted the Air Force Academy, last year's NCAA Division 1-A rushing champions, to discuss with its coaching staff suggestions it had for installing the veer offense.
"They suggested the best thing we could do is go to quicker and more agile linemen," Scott claimed. "Tyler is such a hard worker and fit the mold of linemen we were looking for. So we decided to give him a try there."
At first glance, Leahy doesn't fit the bill of the prototypical lineman, but he hopes to use his speed to make up for any disadvantages a five-foot, 11-inch, 170-pound guard may encounter up front.
"Eventually I'm going to get to go up against the big boys," Leahy acknowledged. "But then again, they won't think I'll be able to do much against them. I will have to get a push off of the ball. I'll have to stay low and drive."
Leahy will attempt to take advantage of his 4.9-second speed in the 40-yard dash to pull from the right guard position and clear the way for Erisman, running back Leif Goleman, and company.
He said a lot of the plays De Soto will run this season were similar to those they ran last year, at least for the offensive line.
"One of the toughest parts about playing up front is knowing when to pull and which guy to block," he said after the team's first practice Monday. "But it's plenty fun and challenging. I like challenge. Especially when our quarterbacks are allowed to change the play at the line of scrimmage. You always have to be thinking."
After officially making the move, Leahy had to alter his weight-lifting methods to building size, strength and power instead of endurance.
He has been lifting more weight but with fewer reps. The team's skill-position players lift more weight with less reps.
"I'm not a big endurance guy anyway," he said. "I wear out easy. I enjoy lifting more weight anyway. I feel like I get a better workout."
Leahy will pull triple duty this season and could ultimately play every down for the Wildcats. He will play linebacker in addition to punting and other special-teams duties.
The three-time letter winner was in on 10 tackles last season, including two of which ended in lost yardage. He averaged 32 yards on 35 punts a year ago.
Leahy said that when an opponent faces him this year they had better be prepared to go all out all, night long.
"They better prepare to get hit in the mouth," he said without hesitation. "I expect to drive them off of the ball. That guy is going to have to play as hard as he can if he expects to make the play."