In his words: Nate Leonard
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 (C-USA).
Leonard has helped the Roadrunners start out the 2013 campaign with a 2-3 record. The UTSA offense is averaging 25.8 points, 431 total yards (140.6 rush/290.4 pass) and a league-leading 24.4 first downs (t-9th FBS) per outing this season and the 6-foot, 280-pounder has a team-high 28 knockdown blocks.
A leader on and off the field, the McKinney native was instrumental in the team's success last fall. He helped UTSA open its second season with five consecutive victories and the Roadrunners finished the year with three straight wins en route to an 8-4 overall record and 3-3 mark in their first and only campaign in the Western Athletic Conference.
The only player in program history to start all 27 games, he recorded 34 pancakes a year ago 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 sixth entry of the fall.
Week #6: Walk With Me
It was nice and cool outside, about 72 degrees and breezy. The breeze was playing with a tuft of my thin blonde hair and rippling my damp workout shirt. It was so quiet. All I could hear were the occasional echo of voices off the concrete walls. It was a calm that I have only dreamed about. I may have been sore and bruised but, at the time, all I could feel were my thoughts. I needed this stroll to work some stuff out, so to speak. I just needed to slow things down for a minute. No cameras, no lights, no jersey. Just me and an empty campus.
I reflect a lot, although I don't have much time to think. I am very much outward with my thoughts and emotions. Some have gone as far as to call me outspoken. I take it as a compliment, as that word seems to run in and about my family. I just feel like if people do not know how I think, if people do not know how I live, then my purpose is meaningless. I know that some people think that I am just a shell. Someone who combs my hair back, knots my bow ties and smiles for the cameras. Someone who trades in the interviews and the blogs for my pads, helmet and jersey on Saturdays. It's okay, I understand. The power of the jersey is a double-edged sword. When used for good and you reach the masses, but used for vanity and you fall on it.
I have come to crossroads at times in my life. They run through my mind a lot. I have made many decisions that led me to this walk. I have not had it easy in this life, but I don't say this to gain sympathy, mind you. I know that many people would consider my life as cozy. I say this because it should be understood that life itself is tragic. You are born, you live and you die, but it's the way that you live your life that can make it a triumph. I was 15 years old when my mother died. She never saw me play a varsity high school football game. She never will see me living my dream of playing collegiate football. She never will live her dreams of seeing me walk down the aisle or holding her grandchildren. I put her spirit in my shell and walk on.
I am 5-foot-11 and three quarters. That's right, I am not afraid to admit that I am under six feet tall. I shouldn't be where I am today if the cookie cutter mold had held true. I don't pass any eye tests, I don't break any bench presses records and I don't strain any stopwatches. I'm sure when the opposing defensive line pins up the depth chart in their locker room, they chuckle at the dimensions I place before them. When we post up the depth chart in ours, I chuckle thinking about their faces the first time I cut them down and feel the thud of their dimensions on the turf. I would not be where I am if it weren't for the support of others, the calculated risk of others. I wonder if I have paid off for them. I put their hopes in my shell and walk on.
I always look for my father in the stadium. He lives through me and so I play to honor him. We have come to the same crossroads and made it out of the darkness together. We know that the brightest of lights can be dimmed by fate and so we fight tooth and nail for the light. We fight for that same light together and that makes us inseparable. He always has been by my side. He always has led me and I always have followed. I wonder if he thinks I am the leader. I put his love in my shell and walk on.
For whatever reason, people stand by my side. My girlfriend has put up with almost a year of me, my friends and teammates have put up with many years of me and my family has put up with a lifetime of me. Maybe it's because they think I'm unforgettable. Maybe it's because they feel like they have to. Maybe it's because they love me. Whatever reason it may be, people like to support me. I wonder if they feel the same support from me. I put their trust in my shell and walk on.
A police officer passed by me on my walk and raised me from my stupor. He asked why I looked so down. I just kept on walking because I was focused on my thoughts. Focused on one in particular. One that troubles me. I wondered who I am and I chuckled.
Think about where you were when the clock struck zeroes on Saturday. I'll tell you where I was, which will answer the question that troubles me. It was 72 degrees. I was in a quiet place. All I could hear was the occasional echo of voices off the concrete walls. I may have been sore and bruised, but, at the time, all I could feel were my thoughts. I was wearing my shell and surrounded by people who dream for me. People who risk for me. People who love me. People who trust me. People who are there for me when times get dark and celebrate with me in the fight for light. People who truly walk beside me in this life. I now know who I am and it is a beautiful feeling. I am a man who comes to crossroads and walks on with those who walk with. Now and forever, I am a Roadrunner. So I wonder, who are you?