N.C. wide receiver Marcus Leak talks Terps pledge
When Nelson Rowell took the head coaching job at Parkwood High in Monroe, N.C., three years ago, two players immediately stood out.
Marcus Leak was a versatile freshman wide receiver, and older brother Maurice was a sophomore dual-threat quarterback. Together, the Leak brothers formed a potent pass-catch combo for the first three years of Rowell’s Parkwood tenure.
“They’ve come a long way since then," Rowell said. "Initially, their athleticism jumped out at you. With Marcus, I saw him make ... just incredible catches. You just see him make the catch and go, ‘How did he do that?’ That’s the thing that jumped out at me then. From a physical standpoint, he probably had some [defensive backs] freshman year that were able to bully him a little bit and move him around. That’s not happening anymore.”
These days, Marcus is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior who missed four games last fall with a high ankle sprain but still led the conference in receptions and receiving yards. Leak’s standout junior season led to interest from Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina State and South Carolina. After a recent visit to College Park, Leak decided Thursday that Maryland was the best school for him.
“It feels pretty good knowing where I’m going and not having to worry about visiting other schools and things like that,” Leak said. “... I like the campus, how everything is right where you need it. They have a great coaching staff, and they were very nice to me. [They were] telling me how I would be playing early, and how they have academic support that when you go up to school, they get you right into tutoring so that you get ahead in class and don’t have to worry about it. They do that with all the players. I felt right at home, like I’ve been there for a long time.”
Dating back to elementary school, Marcus and Maurice were an inseparable duo on and off the football field. Marcus credits Maurice -- who will play football at the University of Charleston (W.Va.) -- for much of his success as a receiver, as does Rowell. But the Rebels coach is also quick to point out just how much talent the younger Leak possesses.
“He can do it all,” Rowell said. “When there’s a jump ball, he’s going to go up and come down with it, just because his hands are so strong. But he’s got soft hands at the same time, if that makes sense. He’s the kind of kid that if you need four yards, he’s going to get you five. If you need a score, he’ll get the score. He makes people miss, he runs over people, he runs by people. He runs some very good routes and that’s something at the next level that he’ll get even better at when he gets better coaching. He understands what it is that we’re trying to do with each route. He can be a deep threat, a home-run threat. We run a lot of bubble screens and he makes things happen. He’s an athlete that just doesn’t come around every so often.”
Rowell said the Maryland coaching staff plans to spread the ball around and get Leak involved in the offense sooner rather than later. Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen told Rowell that Leak’s “an instinctive player,” while wide receivers coach Lee Hull was impressed with his hips and athleticism. Based on his conversations with the UM coaches, Rowell thinks Leak has a solid chance at coming in and being “productive right away” for the Terps.
For Leak, having an opportunity to contribute early at Maryland is just an added bonus. He went into his visit last week with a million questions, and left with all the answers he needed. There’s no question in Leak's mind that he arrived at the right decision.
“When I came into high school, I didn’t think I would get as much attention as I have,” Leak said. “I thought I’d go to a smaller school and play sports, but I just kept getting better and kept working harder. It’s like a dream come true.”