With the recent unexpected departure of former wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, number 78 on our countdown, Chris Leak, is now thrust into the spotlight at Florida. Leak was, of course, a four-year record-setting quarterback at UF from 2003-2006. He joined head coach Will Muschamp‘s coaching staff in 2013 as a quality control coach and a graduate assistant with an emphasis on working with the offense. Since then, he’s gained more and more respect as he climbs the coaching ladder.
Leak was a highly recruited, prolific QB coming out of Independence High School in Charlotte, NC in 2003. He ranked the 26th overall prospect of the 2003 class, and 2nd-best QB as a four-star recruit according to Rivals. His Scout rankings were even higher. Leak was rated a five-star prospect and the sixth-best recruit in the class. Leak started three years for the Independence Patriots, winning three straight state championships and losing only once during his tenure as starting quarterback. His 1,013 completions for 15,593 yards were both North Carolina high school football career state records. The 185 TDs he threw were also a national record. Leak was named a Parade All-American and the Player of the Year in his senior season.
Leak followed up an incredible high school career with an impressive college career. In his four years at the helm of the Gators offense, Leak threw for a school-record 11,213 yards and 88 touchdowns, good for second-best in UF-history. Despite splitting time with Tim Tebow his senior season, he led Florida to the 2006 SEC and BCS Championships. In his final game against Ohio State, Leak went 25-36 for 213 yards and a touchdown on his way to being named the offensive MVP. He started out the game with nine consecutive completions which set the tone for the 41-14 shellacking.
After not being selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, Leak went on to sign with the Chicago Bears. He ended up only playing one preseason game and was eventually cut early in the season. It wasn’t long before professional football came calling as he decided to play for Team Florida of the short-lived All American Football League. The AAFL never played a down. He followed that up with a stint in the Canadian Football League where he won the 2009 Grey Cup with the Montreal Alouttes. He bounced around from four CFL teams before deciding to play in the Arena Football league for the Jacksonville Sharks, joining former Florida teammate Dee Webb. Leak only played one game in the AFL and eventually made his way back to UF.
Now Leak has a spot on the Florida coaching staff where he’s worked with the quarterbacks on the Gators roster. He helped tutor and prepare Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy, and Skyler Mornhinweg as all three started multiple games for UF last season. Although the QB play for Florida last year wasn’t great, it can’t be blamed on Leak. Most of the woes came from a lack of protection by the offensive line and you could see that each QB progressed as they gained more experience.
As the wide receivers coach, Chris Leak is now charged with getting more production out of a talented, but underwhelming unit. His experience as a quarterback should help him teach the position the offense and the importance of route-running to ensure an efficient offense. It also helps he throws one of the prettiest spirals in the game. Leak will also contribute to recruiting and retaining top prospects. Although Phillips was considered a top-notch recruiter, some of Florida’s commits and targets aren’t waivering. In fact, they really like Leak (h/t to Zach Abolverdi of GatorSports.com)
“He’s a QB, so he knows the wide receiver position. He can get what he needs out of the players because he has that perspective.” – Incoming freshman WR Ryan Sousa on Chris Leak
Chris Leak coached me all camp down at UF last year. Man knows what he’s doing
— Tre Jackson™ (@CB_EJ3) June 11, 2014
There’s no doubt Leak will have his work cut out for him this season as he learns the inner-workings of being a college football coach. But with his intensity, intelligence, and will-to-win, he will be successful. There’s no doubt in my mind Leak will help improve the WR production and he may even teach the quarterbacks a thing or two. Losing Phillips was potentially a big loss, but with Leak in the fold, it may end up being a blessing in disguise.