Wisconsin’s new defensive coordinator is ready to get to work.
Jim Leonhard, the 34-year-old former Badgers star, officially became Wisconsin’s new DC on Thursday. It didn’t take long for him to enthusiastically share his reaction.
“I’m honored to have been named the Defensive Coordinator at my alma mater,” Leonhard said in a note shared on Twitter. “My decision to attend the University of Wisconsin allowed me to follow my dreams. The relationships I made while attending UW and the lessons I learned continue to shape me as a person and coach. I look forward to teaching the game of football and the game of life to our student-athletes. On Wisconsin!”
Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard
On Wisconsin! pic.twitter.com/oK9KVs2t8Z
— Jim Leonhard (@jimleonhard) February 4, 2017
Leonhard played 10 seasons in the NFL, most recently playing for the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He also spent time with the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Denver Broncos and the New Orleans Saints. He had 429 tackles in his career to go along with 14 interceptions.
He’s also a familiar name to Wisconsin fans. Though his 2016 role as defensive backs coach was the first season as coach in the program, he’s a former standout at defensive back and on special teams. The former walk-on made 22 career interceptions for the Badgers, including 11 in 2002. He also had three punt return touchdowns and 1,347 career punt return yards.
Now Leonhard steps into a new role. He’ll take over for Justin Wilcox, now California’s head coach. But with Leonhard on staff, the Badgers went 11-3, won the Cotton Bowl and allowed 15.6 points and 202.6 pass yards per game (22 interceptions).
Also, as Land of 10’s Sean Keeler notes, Leonhard’s hiring could be the Badgers’ long-term answer at the position after previous coaches left for other jobs.