On Wednesday evening, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong praised the consistency of sophomore wide receiver Dorian Leonard. On Thursday, a tweet from the Longview product showed off the hands that are helping him break out this spring:
As one-handed catches go, it won't go into the Internet Hall of Fame, but the ease with which Leonard goes up and plucks the ball from the air provides some evidence of just how reliable his hands can be, even when he can't get both of them on the football.
The former consensus three-star prospect didn't break the top 500 players nationally in the 247Sports Composite ranking and only caught one pass for seven yards in 2014, but he's now trying to take advantage of the opportunity to replace John Harris on the outside. Since Harris was the leading receiver and favored target of junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes last fall, there's a significant void to fill.
Reliability is key to establishing chemistry between a quarterback and wide receiver. Plays like the one made above go a long way towards doing so. So does working hard. Described as an outgoing, fun guy, Leonard brings it in practice every day with a positive attitude.
"Dorian is one of those guys who comes out every day with a smile on his face, and he just works," Strong said. "He has a lot of energy, talks, and doesn't mind talking but he talks all the time. But he is one of those guys who never gets tired."
And perhaps he talks because if you put it in his vicinity, he'll come down with it. According to a source, Leonard is also one of the most physical wide receivers on the team -- he likes to decleat cornerbacks and then let them know about.
When the opener against Notre Dame arrives this fall, Leonard is putting himself in a position to let Texas fans know about his skills, too. He certainly took a step in that direction on Thursday.