PISCATAWAY, NJ – Fullback Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) was named the 2003 Freshman of the Year for the BIG EAST Conference and earned Freshman All-American honors by College Football News, one of the leading websites dedicated to covering college football. In addition, defensive end Raheem Orr (Elizabeth, NJ) earned First Team All-League honors.
Leonard, a red-shirt freshman, led Rutgers in both rushing (213 carries, 880 yards) and receptions (53 catches for 488 yards). Leonard’s rushing total was the highest since Terrell Willis ran for 1,080 in 1994 and his receptions (53) rank seventh all-time on Rutgers’ single-season list. Leonard’s 53 catches were the most since Reggie Funderburk had 54 in 1995. He was co-recipient of Rutgers’ MVP-Offense award, sharing the honor with sophomore Ryan Hart, at the Scarlet Knights Annual Football Awards Banquet held Dec. 7.
Leonard also scored a team-high 14 touchdowns and finished the 2003 season with 1,368 total yards, the sixth-highest single-season total in school history. His 86 points (14 TDs, 1 two-point conversion) were the fifth-highest single-season mark in school history and the best by a freshman. Leonard’s total is also the higest since J.J. Jennings scored 128 in 1973. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in total offense in nine of 11 starts, including a season-best 217 at Connecticut (11/8) and 170 vs. Army (9/13). Leonard was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week after the 24-7 win vs. Syracuse on Nov. 29. He rushed for 134 yards and a TD, and caught six passes for 45 yards.
From the College Football News’ website: “Leonard’s overnight evolution from little-known fullback to offensive force read like a Hollywood script. When injuries thinned the backfield, he stepped in and led the Knights in rushing (880 yards), receptions (53) and touchdowns (14). Like a modern-day Tom Rathman, Leonard’s soft hands are a dangerous contrast to a rugged running style that wears down defenses.”
Orr, a senior who served as one of RU’s co-captains, enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2003. He finished second on the team in tackles with 82 (32 solo, 50 assisted), which led all BIG EAST defensive linemen. He also finished first in the league in tackles-for-loss (19.5) and was second in sacks (8.5). He ranked 14th nationally in TFLs and 31st nationally in sacks as well.
Orr, who was named the team MVP at the annual awards banquet on Sunday night, had seven or more tackles in 8 of 12 games, including a season-high 10 vs. Virginia Tech on Oct. 4. He also had 3.0 TFLs and 2.5 sacks vs. the Hokies. Orr also led the team with 19 quarterback hurries and was named by The Sporting News as the BIG EAST’s “Littlest Known Pass Rusher”.
The full team can be found at: http://www.collegefootballnews.com/2003/Features/Freshman_All_America_Team.htm