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#pounditFriday, March 1, 2024

Ex-NFL DB Jim Leonhard skyrockets up college coaching ranks

Jim Leonhard

Jim Leonhard is skyrocketing up the college coaching ranks.

Leonhard, a 10-year DB in the NFL — most notably for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills — began his coaching career last year. The 34-year-old was Wisconsin’s defensive backs coach and did well in the position. He did so well that Wisconsin has promoted him to defensive coordinator to take the spot of Justin Wilcox, who left for the Cal head coaching job.

“A year ago, if you were to ask me if this was going to happen, I’d probably would have laughed at you — not knowing exactly how it was going to go and how it would work out,” Leonhard said via Wisconsin’s site. “Paul (Chryst) brought me in and asked me if I was interested. He thought I was ready and he thought I could handle it. I was excited about the possibility and kind of wanted to see where I was at — if I really wanted to entertain the idea.”

Chryst, the team’s head coach, interviewed three assistants from his staff for the job and decided Leonhard was best. He believes Leonhard not only has the schematic knowledge when it comes to football, but also the ability to connect with people and coordinate among all coaches.

“Jimmy has far more than just a one-year level of coaching knowledge; X’s and O’s, scheme knowledge. In fact, I think he has got great football schematic knowledge.

“And, then, I think a big part of coordinating is connecting. It’s connecting the coaches and coming up with and coordinating the different units into a scheme. It’s connecting the coaches to players. It’s finding ways to connect players to players and how you play.”

If Leonhard continues to do well at Wisconsin, he could be in line for a head coaching job eventually. The Wisconsin defensive coordinator job carries a lot of prestige. It led to Dave Aranda receiving a huge contract from LSU and Wilcox getting the Cal job.

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