Warriors land JC All-America lineman
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
All-America defensive lineman Josh Leonard yesterday accepted a football scholarship from the University of Hawai'i.
In addition, defensive tackle Keahi Watson, the younger brother of UH defensive lineman Keala Watson, said he is seeking to transfer to UH from Saint Francis of Pennsylvania.
Leonard, who is 6 feet 3 and 285 pounds, visited UH this past weekend. On Tuesday, he told the UH coaches he would go elsewhere. But yesterday, he changed his mind and accepted the UH offer.
"I was thinking more about trying to stay close to home," said Leonard, who lives in Sacramento. "But then I decided I wanted to go to a better program, a better team. I got to thinking about how good of an opportunity Hawai'i was for me."
Leonard said Colt Brennan's decision to remain at UH was not a factor.
"I found out (about Brennan) after I called up to commit," Leonard said.
Leonard said he chose UH because of his future teammates and "how great the fans are. Those were the two biggest factors in my decision."
Leonard can run 40 yards in 4.7 seconds and bench press 475 pounds. He amassed 21 sacks in two years at Sierra.
He was named to the 2006 All-California first team. There are 72 California community colleges that field football teams, and being named to the All-California team earns the distinction as a JC All-America player.
In addition, Leonard was named to the 2006 JC Grid-Wire All-America third team. That team includes all junior colleges.
Scout.com gave Leonard a 4-star rating. "That means he will have a big impact his first year," said Kevin Lustgarten, publisher of jcfootball.com, which produces the Scout ratings. "It's like a can't-miss guy."
Leonard turned down offers from Washington, Nevada and Fresno State.
Leonard's father, Rick, and UH defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold were college teammates at Maine.
"(Reinebold) looked at some of my films, and everything, and he liked what he saw, and he made an offer," Leonard said.
Rick Leonard said his son "is a good person. He's a hard-worker. When he comes home from football practice, he'll go to the gym and work out afterwards."
Josh Leonard did not play organized football until his freshman year at Center High in Antelope, Calif. Instead, he competed in soccer, judo and wrestling. Despite placing high in several wrestling meets, he focused solely on football as a senior.
Lustgarten predicted Leonard "will make an instant contribution. He's a super 'get' for Hawai'i. He's a real go-getter. He's very strong, and a very diligent kid."
Watson, who is 6 feet 2 and 290 pounds, said he is in the process of securing a release from Saint Francis before contacting UH.
A graduate of Nanakuli High School, Watson said: "I miss home. I went home for winter break, and went to some of Hawai'i's practices. I watched the Hawai'i Bowl. I want to come home."
Watson, who started two games as a freshman last year, will have four years to play three seasons.
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