“He is Georgia Tech”: A walk-on who willed himself into a team leader, Dylan Leonard knows what a bowl game would mean for his legacy.
Inside The Chart | By Andy Demetra (The “Voice of the Yellow Jackets”)
He had visualized it for years, but when it finally happened, Dylan Leonard admits he had a hard time savoring it. At least, he thought, it gave his dad, Colby, who celebrated his birthday two days earlier, one more gift.
On his 38th career reception, in his 48th career game, Leonard finally caught his first career touchdown pass, at the same stadium where he played in his first-ever game for Georgia Tech.
The touchdown, though, came in the closing minutes of a disappointing 42-21 loss at Clemson. Days later, excitement still wasn’t the right word to describe that moment. Relief didn’t fit either.
For the senior tight end, perspective still has the right-of-way over personal satisfaction.
“It’s good to check it off the list, but either way, I’m not playing for touchdowns. I’m playing for wins,” Leonard said.
Dylan Leonard hauled in his first-career touchdown catch last Saturday at Clemson (Danny Karnik photo)
More specifically, he knows what one more win would do.
Five years after joining Georgia Tech as a walk-on, hoping to compete at a position that had been dormant for more than a decade, Leonard can help the Yellow Jackets clinch bowl eligibility for the first time in his career when they host Syracuse at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field (8 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports).
Of all the skill players who arrived at Georgia Tech in that class of 2019, Leonard is the only one still on the roster. The Milton, Ga., native knows what a bowl could mean for his legacy: a walk-on who not only bet on himself, but on a program that he knew would endure some grim times as it transitioned out of the flexbone option.
He checked off his first touchdown last week. A bigger goal still remains.
“It would be rewarding for the guys, rewarding for the fans, rewarding for the Institute. It’s something that I’ve been thinking [about] since I’ve been here, to be honest. I really, really want that bowl game, and I’m going to do everything I can this Saturday and the following week to get it,” he said.
Conventionally speaking, Leonard’s 12 catches for 122 yards don’t scream impact. Defenses aren’t keying on him. Game plans don’t revolve around him. But Brent Key knows his team wouldn’t be on the…