NORFOLK, Va. – South Carolina State’s all-time leader in tackles is adding to his record – and to the list of honors.
Redshirt senior linebacker Darius Leonard was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the conference announced.
Leonard (6-3, 235) finished with 18 tackles (14 solo) this past Friday in S.C. State’s win over Morgan State. In addition to his tackle count, he also finished with two interceptions for 51 yards with one of them returned for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Leonard logged a tackle for loss, pass breakup and quarterback hurry.
The performance in not new. On the season, Leonard leads the Bulldogs with 61 tackles, 41 of them unassisted. He has four tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, five quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
Leonard eclipsed the SCSU tackles record of 284 tackles by Donovan Richard (2008-11) during the Sept. 3 14-8 loss at Southern University in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge.
He was named MEAC preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and was one of five Bulldogs earning All-MEAC First Team honors. It was the third such honor for the Lake View native.
Leonard (6-3, 235), the 2016 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, lived up to expectations last season, finishing with a MEAC-leading and career-high 124 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He collected a season-high 19 tackles in a loss against FBS National Champion Clemson.
Also last season, Leonard was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the FCS. He was well-recognized on the postseason awards circuit, earning All-American honors from STATS FCS, AFCA Coaches, Sheridan Broadcasting Network (SBN), Box-to-row and HERO Sports.
In addition, Leonard was named the Mel Blount National Defensive Player of the Year as selected by SBN and Box-to-row National Defensive Player of the Year. He became the fourth straight Bulldog player to be named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year.
During this year’s preseason, he was selected as the MEAC Defensive Player to Watch by Athlon Sports and as a finalist for the Butkus Award honoring the nation's best linebacker.
S.C. State running back Trey Samuel was listed by the MEAC as a notable performer from the past weekend.
Samuel finished Friday’s game with 146 yards on 19 rushing attempts. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry and had an 89-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.