PISCATAWAY, NJ – Fullback Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) has been named one of 42 candidates for the Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the nation's top college running back by the SMU Athletic Forum. He is one of two candidates from the BIG EAST Conference.
Leonard was among the nation’s most versatile running backs in 2003, his first season of collegiate action. Leonard led RU with 880 rushing yards and nine touchdowns and also led the team with 53 catches, for 488 yards, and five additional scores. His 53 catches rank eighth on the Scarlet Knights’ single-season list, while his 86 points are fifth-best. Leonard was just the second player in program history to lead the team in both rushing and receiving in the same season. At season’s end, he was a Freshman All-America and BIG EAST Freshman of the Year selection by College Football News.
Leonard joins senior safety Jarvis Johnson (Miami, FL) and junior tight end Clark Harris (Manahawkin, NJ) on preseason award lists. Johnson is a candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player, while Harris is under consideration for the John Mackey Award, presented to the nation’s top tight end.
Johnson, an All-ECAC pick in 2003, led Rutgers with 97 tackles from his strong safety position, starting all 12 games. He was fifth in the BIG EAST in tackles among all defensive backs and 17th overall. He registered 10 or more tackles in five of 12 games, including a season-high 11 vs. Michigan State on Sept. 6.
Harris was Rutgers’ top receiving tight end with 18 catches for 213 yards in his first season of collegiate competition. He was fourth overall on the team and opened the season with a three-catch, 43-yard effort in a win over Buffalo on Aug. 30.
The recipient of the all three awards will be announced live on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards show on Thursday, Dec. 9.
The Doak Walker Award honors the 1948 Heisman Trophy winner, a three-time All-American at SMU. He is also a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. Bronko Nagurski was an All-American defensive tackle and fullback in 1929, receiving the award at both positions. He, too, is a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. John Mackey was just the second true tight end to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He starred at Syracuse University before a 10-year NFL career that included five Pro Bowl appearances.
Rutgers, under the direction of head coach Greg Schiano, will begin the 2004 season with three consecutive home games, starting with Michigan State on Sept. 4 (3:30 p.m. – ABC). RU returns 39 letterwinners and 17 starters from a 2003 team that posted a 5-7 overall record and a 2-5 mark in the BIG EAST Conference, marking the sixth-best improvement in the nation.