Chris Leak became a national figure on Jan. 8, 2007 when he led the Florida Gators to a smashing 41-14 victory over the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the BCS Championship game. This victory represents the culmination of Leak's accomplishments. Leak's ability to overcome adversity is one of his greatest strengths and will allow him to thrive in the NFL just as he did in college.
Leak came up from Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C. as one of the top prospects of the 2003 class. Passing up opportunities at great programs like USC, Notre Dame, Tennessee and University of Texas, Leak busted onto the scene at the University of Florida. Going 6-3 as a starter, Leak set a Southeastern Conference record for freshman wins at the quarterback position and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team that year.
Despite many offensive changes throughout his tenure at Florida, Leak was able to maintain an impressive average quarterback rating of 139.8 and was touted as a possible Heisman candidate, even though he never received the award.
Leak's mental and physical abilities will allow him to further excel at the quarterback position at the professional level. Despite his modest size (6-foot, 207 pounds), Leak is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the 2007 NFL draft class.
Leak's greatest trait is his ability to overcome adversity. At Florida, Leak was forced to learn three different offenses in four years and played under three different offensive coordinators and two head coaches. The most drastic change came after head coach Ron Zook was fired and University of Utah head coach Urban Meyer came on board. Meyer instituted his famous "spread offense", which put Leak at a disadvantage.
As a drop-back quarterback of relatively short stature, Leak had difficulty adjusting to the spread. However, through perseverance and practice (along with a little offensive tweaking), Leak was able to overcome this change and again thrived. Another great quarterback trait Leak possesses is leadership. In fact, Leak was elected team captain by his teammates in three of four seasons. Leak is also a scholar, being listed on the SEC Honor Roll in every semester of college. This probably contributed to his aptitude for various offensive schemes.
Leak has some significant disadvantages. First, his size will prove a significant obstacle to his success in the pros. NFL defensive linemen are much bigger than their college counterparts and are more adept at batting down low passes. Leak will have to overachieve in order to overcome this disadvantage, similar to New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.
Additionally, Leak has an awful history running the ball despite his athletic build. Even though he scored 13 touchdowns throughout his collegiate career, Leak managed a pitiful 0.4 yards per run average. This is something he will definitely need to work on in order to bring a balanced game.
In the 2007 NFL draft, Leak is not ranked as high as some other college quarterback such as Notre Dame's Brady Quinn or Louisiana State's JaMarcus Russell mostly because of his size and lack of mobility. Leak would be fortunate to be selected in the first day. Teams looking for depth at the quarterback position could potentially take a chance on him in the fourth or fifth round.
About Matt Diesner
Matt Diesner has been a KFFL contributor since 2007.
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