Feb. 6, 2008
Local football players sign letters of
By Jon Nowacki
A handful of local prep football players are expected
to name their school today on national signing day. Two plan to
play for Minnesota Duluth.
Anthony Leone remembers going to Minnesota Duluth
football games as a kid and being eager for them to end.
After the final seconds ticked away and the fans
began filing out, Leone and his father, Tony, would go onto Griggs
Field and toss the football around, pretending to be the Bulldogs
stars of the day.
Now, it’s time for Leone to take the field
for real. The Duluth Denfeld senior joins Duluth Central lineman
Garth Heikkinen as the local highlights of this year’s UMD
recruiting class, to be announced today as part of national signing
“I just felt like this would be the best
place for me to go,” Leone said. “I just felt like I
could do a lot better here than anywhere else. I just always wanted
to be a Bulldog.”
UMD envisions the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Leone as
an outside linebacker, where he can utilize his strength and quickness.
He led the Hunters in tackles and made three interceptions, including
two he returned for touchdowns. Leone also played running back and
tight end for Denfeld, catching 18 passes for 405 yards, leading
Heikkinen, meanwhile, helped open holes for a
Trojans’ team that rushed for more than 2,500 yards last season.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder also is a basketball standout.
Leone, who said he received recruiting interest
from North Dakota, Bemidji State, St. Cloud State, Concordia-St.
Paul and Augustana, said UMD coach Bubba Schweigert’s departure
to Southern Illinois didn’t affect his decision. Former coach
and current UMD athletic director Bob Nielson was quickly appointed
to take Schweigert’s place.
“I like Bubba, but I’ve known about
Nielson for a long time and have heard a lot of good things about
him,” Leone said. “Most of the coaching staff from last
year is coming back, so it really wasn’t that big of deal.”