ALLEN, Texas – Typically reserved for NCAA Division I-A student-athletes, the Texas vs The Nation Game has provided a pipeline to the National Football League for senior football players since 2007. Every once in a while, a FCS Division I or Division II player finds their name on the roster and this year, that player is Bemidji State University tight end Brian Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.).
One of the most decorated student-athletes on and off the field to ever play Beaver football, Leonhardt has been invited as one of more than 110 student-athletes from around the country to play at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas Feb. 2 in the annual Texas vs The Nation Game.
“Most of the scouts liked his blocking ability and say that is his strength right now,” said BSU head football coach Jeff Tesch. “It’s exciting to see him get invited to this All-Star game. He will have the opportunity to play with Division I players. There will be a lot of scouts there and hopefully he performs the way the scouts think he has the capability of doing when he is healthy.”
The Division I-A Collegiate Senior All-Star Bowl pits top collegiate senior student-athletes with ties to the state of Texas (originally from Texas or played college football in Texas) against top seniors from around the nation. The game showcases top senior players for professional scouts and has been successful in displaying talent signed by NFL teams. Watching Feb. 2 will be 225 NFL coaches, general managers and scouts. In 2012, 1 in 10 players on NFL rosters were TVN alumni and since 2007, 515 (93%) players have gone on to sign NFL contracts.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. central standard time and can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest.
A four-time All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference player, Leonhardt earned All-America status from two different publications following a standout 2011 season. When the season was over, Leonhardt and Tesch started getting contacted from NFL teams. By the end of the 2012 season, the multifaceted tight end had visited with more than half of the 32 NFL teams.
Despite battling injuries all season, Leonhardt started 10 games in 2012 and was named Beyond Sports Network Division II All-America First Team and All-NSIC First Team. A preseason All-American from BSN, the tight end posted 25 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns. His reception and reception yards numbers were third on the team in 2012, while the three scores put him in a four-way tie for first. He averaged 34.3 yards per game, 13.7 yards per reception and had a season-long reception of 38 yards. He posted a season-high 93 yards on seven receptions at University of Mary Oct. 6. An extension of the offensive line, Leonhardt helped guide the Beavers to 170.8 rushing yards per game and 20 touchdowns.
He capped his career with 15 touchdowns to rank tied for eighth all-time at Bemidji State and his 112 career receptions are 10th at BSU. Leonhardt finished his career with 1,431 career reception yards to rank second among BSU tight ends since 1971.
He was a 2009 All-NSIC Honorable Mention as a freshman, then earned All-NSIC First Team honors in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2011 he was named Daktronics, Inc. Super Region #3 First Team, en route to All-America Second Team honors from the publication. Leonhardt was also a 2011 D2Football.com All-America Honorable Mention. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, he earned the team’s Guy Vena Most Inspirational Award.
The 2012 captain also led off the gridiron and posted a 3.71 GPA entering his final semester and graduated in December with a degree in business administration. For his efforts, he was named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Division II Football First Team. A 2011 Academic All-America selection, Leonhardt was a three-time academic all-district award winner and three-time Fall NSIC All-Academic Team member.
The Beavers started 1-3, but finished the 2012 season 7-4 to record their 14th record of at least .500 in their last 15 seasons. The team’s 5-1 record at Chet Anderson Stadium tied a program-best for home wins in a season and marked the 11th consecutive winning record at home. Bemidji State went 6-1 in the North to share the NSIC North Division title with University of Minnesota Duluth and record its best showing in the five years since beginning divisional play.
For more information on the Bemidji State football program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BemidjiStateFB or @BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/bsubeaverfootball or facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Mulitmedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).