(Player Spotlight) - Joe Leonard #56, Nickname - "Big Joe"- Left Tackle and Specialty Teams
Joe was our Alaska boy. He came down from the cold state before the 1983 season. He wore his Alaskan roots well with his thick hair. He was our starting left tackle on the 1984 team. He was my compadre, as we anchored the left side of the line. Joe was a big 6'4" and weighed 195 lbs. He was the second-heaviest player on the team, and he spent many hours at the gym working out. Joe spent a full year in the gym before the 1984 season. He work diligently on his big python biceps. In the summer of 1984, Joe worked out with a group of us doing drills and running to get in shape for the upcoming season. It paid off well for him. Joe could not be intimidated on the gridiron, and did his job well, without failing. Joe was rarely beat by an opposing player, and together many times we buried opposing defensive tackles in the turf. Joe was a rock. When times got rough out there, Big Joe stepped up and never failed. Great heart. In the second round of the playoffs against Folsom, we were doing pass protection one play, and they blitzed their middle linebacker. As I went to pick him up, I saw Joe knock the defensive tackle on his rear, then turn and do the exact same to their defensive end. Big Joe manhandled them both and those were stud trenchers as Folsom was undefeated at the time and ranked #3 in the state of California. That was the type of performance that made us undefeated in 1984 because my teammates played like champions. In the fall of 1983, we were at the gym at Travis AFB working out, when Joe smashed his right index finger flat as a penny as he was putting down some weights. We immediately took him to the hospital for medical treatment, as his finger was severely injured. The very next day Joe was back in the gym lifting weights. He had a truck load of grit, and that is why I am glad he lined up next to me. Thanks for the memories, Big Joe. You took names.