The Daily Nole

FSU Senior Moments: Rick Leonard

Phil Kelly/FSU athletics

The send-off wasn’t what most of Florida State’s seniors had hoped for, but nevertheless, the accomplishments as a program that this year’s senior class helped with are many. With the regular season in the books and only the Independence Bowl to be played, we’ll be looking back on the careers of some prominent FSU seniors.

The outgoing senior class for the Seminoles was part of the first College Football Semifinal ever and helped FSU finish in the top 10 twice and play in three New Year’s Six bowls. Some departing seniors contributed each season while others had small parts in the grand scheme of things.

Our series continues with a third straight player who tried his hand on both sides of the ball. Originally a defensive end, Rick Leonard was a 2-year starter at right tackle on the offensive line.

Leonard’s transition early on was a slow one, but the senior wound up starting 18 games over his final two years, including each of the Seminoles’ 12 games in 2017. Over the last two seasons, only center Alec Eberle has started more games for the Seminoles up front than Leonard.

While it’s hard to pick out specific moments for an offensive lineman like it is for a running back like Ryan Green or a wide receiver like Ermon Lane, Leonard did improve throughout the course of his career. After struggling mightily in the 2016 opener against Ole Miss, Leonard held his own against Taco Charlton of Michigan in last season’s Orange Bowl.

Leonard lost his starting spot to Brock Ruble in September 2016, but regained it late in the year and started the final three games of 2016. During a season where pass protection suffered as a whole, FSU allowed just four sacks over the final three games.

During his time on defense, Leonard recorded six tackles, including 2.5 for loss. If he were to start against Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl as expected, he’d be the first FSU right tackle to start every game since Bobby Hart in 2014.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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