SAN ANTONIO — Junior center Nate Leonard is back again this season with a blog that will give fans an inside glimpse into UTSA's first season as a member of Conference USA.
A leader on and off the field, Leonard was instrumental in the team's success last fall. The McKinney native helped the Roadrunners open their second season with five consecutive victories and UTSA finished the year with three straight wins en route to an 8-4 overall record and 3-3 mark in its first and only campaign in the Western Athletic Conference.
The only player in program history to start all 22 games, he recorded 34 knockdown blocks and anchored an offensive line that allowed just seven sacks in 368 pass attempts (t-2nd FBS), as the Birds averaged 31.2 points and 390.2 yards (159.2 rush/231.0 pass) per outing.
Below is his first entry of the fall.
Week 1: Do You Follow?
It's great to be back. My hands are having a hard time hitting the proper keys, which is due to a combination of excited jitters and the fact that it has been a year since I have sat down to the computer and punched-out an entry. I am very excited to be able to share another season with y'all. So much has happened since I stepped out of the Alamodome after our season-ending victory against Texas State, but I find it hard to believe that the good majority of a year has passed. It's almost as if my life needs no traditional calendar, as each day is one day further from the last football season and one day closer to the next. On that note, it's game week and another day closer to our season opener against the Lobos of New Mexico. This also means that yet another fall camp has come and gone and we have a lot to catch up on. So, my old friends, let's get started.
My teammates and I have been riding the high after finishing our 2012 campaign with an 8-4 record. Family, friends, fans and media joined us, singing our praises and constantly reminding us of how well we did. We deserved the praise, UTSA deserved the praise, the city of San Antonio deserved the praise and so did our family, friends and fans. In just our second year as a football program, with tremendous support, we were able to accomplish what many believed we couldn't, yet we fell short of accomplishing what we believed we could. Our record was great, but it wasn't good enough. I made such a statement during the Texas State postgame press conference and my interview turned into a glorified clip that was used on highlight videos, posted to YouTube and showed to donors and other benefactors to the program and the university. What I said was true. Our 8-4 record wasn't good enough, because I don't know anyone who would put in the effort we do to not have a perfect 12-0 record. I find it outrageous that every year, the media asks me what I expect our record to be for the upcoming season, and without the bat of an eye, I respond “12-0.” It would be unfair to the people who rest their hopes on my shoulders for me to expect anything less.
Many people also praised me for my blog. I couldn't believe how many people actually read it. Almost everyone I talked to asked me if it would be coming back for another season and even more of my father's friends couldn't stop talking to him about it. What was even more encouraging were the lives I touched. I would get messages upon messages on social media outlets from people, young and not as young, across the country thanking me for my inspirational words. It gave me a whole new sense of pride knowing that people read my story and were inspired by my trials and tribulations. I was even more excited about the exposure it gave my university, teammates and coaches. I believe that every man's worst fear is to be forgotten. I just pray that I am remembered for being a Roadrunner.
Many people also critiqued my blog, mostly in the form of harmless suggestions for writing material. My friends mostly wanted “shout-outs." My former coaches mostly wanted more information about our plays and schemes. UTSA fans mostly wanted more "on-the-field action" and creepy old men mostly wanted more details about , well, let’s just say the perks of being a Division I football player when it comes to women. However, it's the requests of the motherly figures in my life that will be answered. Yes, ladies, there is a "lady."
Her name is Samantha and she has had my eye ever since my first summer class at UTSA. Maybe it was her long brown hair or her beautiful brown eyes, but with her as a distraction, I was lucky to be able to complete the course load for that class. The way I introduced myself was to ask her a question that I already knew the answer to. Smooth, right? I would like to think that it was the smile I gave her after she answered the question that kept her talking to me, but I know it must have been the incessant text messages I sent her on a daily basis. You know a girl loves you when she gives you a full embrace in sweaty, smelly football gear. If you have ever hugged a football player after a game, you know what I am talking about. I give her an out each time, but she hugs me anyway. If that's not love, then I don't know what is.
Speaking of love, if you don't absolutely love the game of football, then there is no reason that any sane person would put himself through two-a-days. Two-a-days are just as bad as everyone makes them out to be. I sum two-a-days up to one huge day with many practices and a couple of naps in between. Practice upon practice is a grind and, although I have been playing football for about thirteen years now, practice is still practice. Knee braces, ankle braces, smelly pads and blisters. Noseguards, defensive tackles, driving sleds and blitz pickups. Bloody knuckles, stiff necks, sore knees and tight shoulders. Atomic Bomb, Advil, Tylenol and cold tubs. Meetings, meetings, meetings and more meetings. I regress, because although it may sound like I am complaining, I respect the process. "Respect the Process." The phrase stressed to us by the coaching staff in order to make sure that we understand that without the process, the games and the glory aren't as enjoyable. If you can't enjoy the journey, then you can't appreciate the destination.
My entries from last season depicted my background and gave insight as to who I am, what I stand for and what drives me. This year, it's all about the gridiron. I will detail the aspects of being a Division I college football player physically, emotionally and psychologically. In other words, welcome to my shoes, or cleats I should say. They may smell, but if you tie the laces tight enough, I'm sure you will find that they will lead you to the destination.
So, Roadrunners Nation, slip your feet in, tie up the laces, double knot and follow me to Albuquerque, N.M. We have some Lobos to prove wrong, let alone the entire nation.