the glue

Bruschi's Breakdown
Monday night should be great game

Tedy: Revis gets a lot of talk, and also Bart Scott and Jason Taylor, all bigger-name players, but I really like safety Jim Leonhard. I see him as the glue that keeps it all together back there. He's a great special teams player and on defense, he knows Rex Ryan's system inside and out. Rex brought him over from Baltimore and he keeps everyone on the same page and has made big plays for them. I think he's underrated.
Jim Leonhard Award Finalists Announced

By: Travis Wilson | 11/5/2010

The Jim Leonhard Award is presented to the top senior defensive back as part of the WSN Senior Football Awards. The award is named after former Flambeau High School and University of Wisconsin athlete Jim Leonhard, who has gone on to great success in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.

The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 25 semi-finalists, and five finalists for the award have now been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state finals.

Jim Leonhard Award Finalists:

Kasey Leggate, Northwestern – If there's anyone that epitomizes what the Jim Leonhard Award is about, Leggate may be just that player. Like Leonhard, Leggate is from a small town in northwest Wisconsin and listed at 5-8, yet plays much bigger than that. A team leader and captain this season, Leggate has helped the Tigers to another deep playoff run. Along the way he has recorded 46 tackles, 6 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. “He is a player with an uncanny ability to create turnovers, as he is always around the ball,” said assistant coach Ryan Scherz. “We ask him to play both around the line of scrimmage at times and in a deep cover-2 position, and he excels at both.”

Joe Makeever, Appleton North – A second team all-conference choice last season, Makeever stepped his game up even more this year and was unanimously voted as a 1st team all-FVA choice. On top of that, he was selected as the FVA Defensive Back of the Year as North shared the league title. He was a key reason that Appleton North finished among the best scoring defenses in all of Division 1 and led the FVA in total defense. Accounting for 92 total tackles (44 solo), Makeever also recorded 6 interceptions and 9 pass break-ups. “Joe's statistics indicate his great ability, but they pale in comparison to the character of this young man,” head coach Rob Salm said. “Joe demonstrates great leadership on and off the field. I can say without hesitation say Joe is the best safety I have coached in my 20 years of coaching and would be the ideal recipient of the Jim Leonhard award.”

Jordan Noskowiak, Sun Prairie – A big, physical presence in the secondary for Sun Prairie, Noskowiak helped the Cardinals to a share of the Big Eight Conference title. A two-way starter for the third straight season, Noskowiak was a second team all-league pick as a sophomore, first team as a junior, and a likely first team choice as a senior as well. In 2010, Noskowiak recorded 67 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 9 pass break-ups. “Jordan is a defensive back who you had to account for both in the run and pass game,” said head coach Brian Kaminski. “He is someone who has great strength, size and quickness. “He made a number of tackles right at the line of scrimmage for us. He was the leader of our secondary and made all of our calls and checks at the line for us.”

Ryan Winske, Omro – An outstanding athlete, Winske was a strong candidate for the Dave Krieg Award recognizing the state's top senior quarterback as well after being selected as the Flyway Conference Offensive Player of the Year. On the defensive side of the ball he was a unanimous all-league pick who helped the Foxes to their first conference title in nearly 40 years. Ryan finished with 73 total tackles (51 solo) and 4 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown). “He is 6-1, 215 pounds which is linebacker size with defensive back speed,” Omro coach Dave Wellhoefer said. “He was selected by his teammates for our 'Heart of the Fox' Award which is given to the player that inspires and motivates the greatest amount.”

Patrick Schmidt, Menasha – An outstanding cover corner who is physical at the line of scrimmage and does a nice job getting back to break up deep passes, Schmidt helped the Bluejays to a share of the FVA title this year. Playing in the pass happy FVA, Schmidt has garnered first team all-conference honors each of the past two seasons, including a unanimous selection in 2010.
Leonhard: Big Cheese in Wis. but No Packers Fan
Posted by Eric Allen on October 26, 2010 – 4:15 pm

Jim Leonhard might have grown up in Tony, Wis., but the veteran Jets safety never had any Packers fever.

“I was never a big Green Bay fan,” he told me this week during a taping of “Four Quarters.” “My parents were, so I gave them grief growing up.”

You can get from Tony, a small town 200 miles northwest of the Packers’ home, to Lambeau Field in less than 3½ hours by car. However during his childhood, Leonhard idolized a 5’8” running back who happened to be employed in the Motor City.

Wisconsin, he said, is “a huge football state with very dedicated, passionate fans, which is great for an organization. It was fun growing up and seeing the history of the great players and they had some very exciting games,” Leonhard said of the Pack. “I had to cheer against them — I was a big Barry Sanders fan. I was a Detroit fan.”

Late Sunday afternoon, Leonhard hopes that most of Wisconsin will be mourning a loss by their favorite pro sports team after the Jets and the Packers battle. This will be the second time Leonhard, a six-year veteran, will face the Packers and the first time as a Jet and a defensive regular.

“I have a lot of family and friends that are torn who to cheer for this week. It will be fun and hopefully we get a win,” he said. “Then I’ll have bragging rights for an entire year. I’m looking forward to it. Even though I was never a Green Bay fan, just knowing the history of that franchise, it would be big to get a win this week.”

The 5’8”, 186-pound Leonhard returned to Tony during the bye week to watch his younger brother, Tyler, play his last regular high school game at Flambeau High School. It was the first time Jim had seen his brother play a high school game in person as Tyler lined up at QB and S just like Jimmy did in high school.

A two-time captain at Flambeau, Leonhard captained his HS team as both a junior and a senior. He earned team MVP honors as a senior after collecting eight interceptions and 120 tackles before walking on at Wisconsin.

“Growing up in a small town with just over 100 people — the high school is made up of a bunch of different communities that come together to make the high school,” he said of Flambeau. “If I played in front of 2,000 or 2,500 people, that was a huge sellout, a standing-room-only game.

“Going from that and to Madison and playing in front of 75, 80 thousand every week in the Big Ten was a huge adjustment. But it was great, having to walk on, having a great experience and finally getting a scholarship after a couple of years. It was a lot of fun. I have some great memories at Wisconsin as well and some pretty good teams. Going to Wisconsin, my friends and family were huge Badger fans, so a lot of people got involved in my career and I had a lot of support.”

Leonhard, still giddy over the Badgers’ big road upset over the Iowa Hawkeyes last Saturday, was one of the most productive players in the history of the UW program. His 21 interceptions tied a school record while ranking fourth-best in Big Ten history, and his 1,347 punt-return yards (three of his returns went for touchdowns) also established a conference mark.

“I got experience as a freshman, played special teams and didn’t redshirt. I made a few plays and then for the first time in my life — growing up a three-sport guy in high school — I got to focus on football year-round,” he said. “Going to spring ball and focusing on football 12 months a year really took my game to the next level. I ended up starting my next three years and having a very productive career. It was great, it really was fun. I have a lot of memories. A fun university. There is a lot more outside of football that you’ll remember and I had a great time and met a lot of great people.”

A well-known name throughout Wisconsin, Leonhard is a giant in tiny Tony. According to, Tony had a registered population of 88 in July of 2009 (it was 105, according to the 2000 Census). And when you enter, there’s that famous sign that reads “Hometown of Jimmy Leonhard” and “Walk-On to All-American.”

“I have a lot of pride and a lot of support in my hometown and people love to say they know me or they grew up from where I’m from. It’s fun to get back and just see the reception you get. I try to get back as much as possible,” he said. “It is a little weird. When I see that sign, it’s like, I’m not that important. But you see the effect you have on people, especially kids, and you can’t help but be proud and enjoy giving back to the community.”

Leonhard knows loyalties will be divided in many Wisconsin households on Halloween. So Jimmy’s wife, Katie, has designed a specialty T-shirt that reads “Green Bay Fan By Birth” and “Jim Leonhard Fan By Choice” that can be found at Leonhard loves where he’s from, but he’s never been a fan of the Packers and that won’t change this weekend.