Denfeld News

Feb. 6, 2008
Duluth News Tribune

Local football players sign letters of intent
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 day.

“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 the team.

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.”

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