Last April, Charlotte native Marcus Leak caught three touchdown passes in the first half of Maryland’s spring game and was well on his way to being a top target for the Terrapins in 2015.
One month later, he left the program because of academic ineligibility and hasn’t played organized ball since.
Leak was at UNC Charlotte on Tuesday participating in the 49ers’ pro day for three NFL scouts, trying to get noticed. He’s been off the map for the better part of a year, and Leak needed to get on someone’s radar with a good showing at Charlotte.
“I guess at a bigger school like Maryland you would get more exposure with scouts but at the end of the day, you’re going to get the numbers that you’re going to get,” Leak said. “All it takes is one scout to see your numbers and give you a chance and that’s all I’m looking for. I’m thankful to everyone who came out and I appreciate the opportunity they gave me.”
Leak joined six 49ers players and two Johnson C. Smith players at Tuesday’s pro day in front of scouts from the Jets, Bills and Panthers. At these smaller pro days, players from smaller colleges or natives such as Leak work out in front of the assembled scouts.
They get their measurables and numbers on record, and maybe a player or three will get a call from a team after the draft and come in for a rookie minicamp.
From the start of the day, Leak showed he had the measurables down. At 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, Leak posted a 37 1/2 inch vertical, which outperforms the average NFL scouting combine vertical for receivers by 2 inches.
Leak had a broad jump of 9 feet, 10 inches and put up 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. His 4.49-second 40-yard dash was better than the combine average, and even better than that when you consider he’s 11 pounds heavier than the average receiver.
“I would like to get (my weight) down. Probably water weight maybe,” joked Leak, whose compact physique is more muscular than many slot receivers. “It’s still a good weight. I would say that I passed the eye test. Just trying to stay as lean as I can. As long as I can move I don’t care what weight I’m at.”
Played at Parkwood High
Leak starred at Parkwood High in the late 2000s. He had 830 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns in his final two seasons in high school and was ranked as the 24th-best player in the state according to Rivals.com.
In 2011, he became the first freshman to start at receiver for the Terrapins in six years. The next year he averaged 17.1 yards per catch, which was fifth-best in the ACC. But he took the 2013 season off because of academic and “personal” reasons.
He had 297 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2014 when he returned, and after that spring game he was poised to have a big senior season.
Then academic issues happened again, and Leak didn’t try to dance around it Tuesday.
“I just felt like school wasn’t as interesting as football was to me at that point,” Leak said. “I was contemplating putting football or school first and it was kind of hard to balance. Most students can do it well but you have to sacrifice something – with social life or what have you. I really wasn’t into school; it’s never been my thing. I put more emphasis on football.
“Normally I’d bounce back from it where I’d be eligible and it just wasn’t the case this time. I just got behind the ball. Right now I’m just trying to look forward to playing football and look at it as a learning experience.”
‘I just want to play ball’
Leak spent the past 10 months working out wherever he can with whomever he can. His older brother, Maurice, was a quarterback at Charleston University in West Virginia and sometimes throws with him. Leak has also trained at Matthews’ D1 Sports Training with former Duke quarterback Anthony Boone.
While Leak’s numbers Tuesday stood out in a small group, he was not able to perform any positional drills.
He doesn’t believe his skills have diminished, though the truth is no NFL scout has seen him run routes or catch a pass since that 2015 spring game.
Dressed from head to toe in Maryland’s Under Armour gear Tuesday, Leak has faith someone will give him a chance. It’s understood he won’t get drafted, but if a team likes the numbers he put up Tuesday, he could get a shot at a rookie camp and then work his way into a training camp.
“I just want to play ball,” Leak said. “The ultimate goal is playing in the NFL. That’s what I’m going to strive for. If I do have to go the Canadian route or arena route, I’m still going to be pushing so I can play at the next level.”
Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9
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