LEANDER, Texas -- Longview (Texas) wide receiver Dorian Leonard was headed to Oklahoma until he wasn't -- in the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions, all six analysts who participated had the consensus three-star prospect headed to Norman.
Instead, Leonard chose the Longhorns in mid-June in a surprising decision that happened to coincide with a remarkable run on wide receiver prospects for Texas. At the Texas 7on7 State Championship, Leonard spoke with SB Nation Recruiting about his decision and what made him choose Texas.
"I just liked the campus a lot more. I like the academics and I like the new up-tempo offense that they are putting in. I really feel close to the coaching staff," said the 6'4, 200-pounder.
Of those factors, Leonard indicated that the academics stood out above the rest of the considerations.
"I know that Texas is ranked highly academically and that will help me out in the long run."
Ranked as the No. 71 wide receiver nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings, Leonard was well aware of the popular perception of which school he would likely choose.
"I knew a lot of people thought I would choose Oklahoma because of all the guys from Longview who have gone up there like Malcolm Kelly. I heard a lot about it from them," he said.
Things went down a little bit differently, however.
"Everybody was trying to talk me into going to Oklahoma -- every day I would hear something about it, but I wanted to make my own decision."
As time has told, that decision was to head to Texas, where the new up-tempo spread offense helped attract Leonard to the Longhorns. With his big build, he's set to play an inside receiver position with the return of the flex tight end to the Texas offense.
Leonard knows that he can be a possession receiver in college because of his strong hands and 6'4 frame, but has been working on his speed this summer to better stretch the field vertically. A willing blocker, the Longview product cited that as a strength of his and is working to improve in that area by getting stronger. Since he will be playing inside at Texas, Leonard will need to excel in that area -- the Texas offense is moving in a direction that will require strong blocking from the wide receivers to run the run/pass combination plays that will become a staple of new play-caller Major Applewhite's attack.
But did the coaching staff pressure Leonard into his decision when spots started to fill up quickly during the wild days of recruiting at the position in June? He said that wasn't the case.
"There was no pressure from the Texas coaching staff. I just wanted to get it done during the summer so that I could focus on school and sports," Leonard said.
As for all that competition that coming in with five other wide receiver commits will entail? Like most top athletes, Leonard isn't scared of it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"I think having all the other wide receiver commits in Austin will help me out a lot to provide more of a challenge and help me get better."