Florida running back Nay'Quan Wright, left, celebrates his touchdown against Samford with offensive lineman Richie Leonard during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Gator OL Richie Leonard Talks Gator Football

Gator football’s Richie Leonard spoke last week about the upcoming season, the adjustments that have come along with Coach Napier and his new staff, and the NIL deal.

New Coaches, New Culture

With the arrival of Coach Billy Napier and his new staff, the program has undergone a significant culture change.

Leonard mentioned the chemistry that has developed inside the offensive line room.

He also mentioned how while some of the signaling and language are different, most of them are “calls that you use all around football,” which has allowed for a better transition.

“I definitely think it’s been a smooth transition,” he said. “Especially once we got everybody in the building and got to start building those relationships with each other.”

Technique is Key

Football is often thought to be a size-dominant sport, however, Leonard discussed the importance of technique as opposed to size on the offensive line.

“I’ve learned that it’s a very technical position,” Leonard said. “You’re not going to always be bigger than the person you’re blocking, faster, stronger than the person you’re blocking…It’s about who can be the most perfect on their technique each and every play.”

Impact of the NIL Deal

Leonard also spoke on the recent name, image and likeness deal and how he feels that it has impacted him and the sport as a whole.

“To me, it means, you know, being able to maximize off of and profit off of my name,” he said. However, he does not think that the NIL is negatively impacting the game.

“Sometimes people can think that players are leaning one way or another because of NIL, but at the end of the day I feel like everybody still just wants to play football.”

Looking to the Future

While still a sophomore, Leonard spoke about his aspirations to become a coach.

Playing baseball and basketball early on and throughout much of his childhood, Leonard knew that he wanted to eventually become a coach, but he did not necessarily believe that it would be in football.

Once he started getting into football in high school, however, the story changed.

“It’s a physical part of the game, you know, that other sports lack,” said Leonard about what stuck out about football. “Being able to go out on the field and legally hit somebody. There’s nothing like it.”

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, Matt has served as a sports coordinator with WRUF. He also participates in sports broadcasting, providing play-by-play for a variety of Gators sports.

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