Alex Leatherwood’s actions have always been more eloquent than his words Levi Edwards Digital Team Reporter
Alex Leatherwood is a huge human being.
That was my first thought when I met the Raiders first round pick in 2021. Six feet 5, 312 pounds threatened him just by looking at him.
I waved the tackle on the right and reached out to introduce myself. My interview with him was minutes before he spoke to the media during the training camp, and it was the first time he had spoken publicly since it was drafted by the University of Alabama four months ago.
My right hand literally shrank in him, and the big hand that was beneficial to him became the winner of the Elite Blocker and Outland Trophy. Our exchange of words was fairly basic.
“Hello, I’m Levi Edwards, a team reporter. Nice to meet you.”
“Hey, you too, Sir,” he replied with an incredible grinning voice that you couldn’t believe you were only 22 years old.
It was pretty humorous and really fresh to me to hear Alex Leatherwood calling me “Sir”. Leatherwood is only two years younger than me and I’m still struggling to get used to people called “sirs”. m is still in his early twenties.
But hearing him say “Sir” was another positive memory of the classic Southern hospitality that Leatherwood and I grew up with. Yes wife, yes teacher, no wife, no teacher-my two parents with Alabama roots raised me to always talk to people that way.
So, as Leatherwood moved from Pensacola, Florida (where he was born and raised), I was also interested in the transition from the southeast to the west coast. This is also something I know very well. And while adapting to life in the desert, his hometown of Florida Panhandle has played a major role in the young man he became.
“Do you think you represent yourself, your family and the Pensacola community when you step into the field in Raiders uniforms?” I asked.
“Thousand percent,” he replied without any hesitation. “I feel like I represent my city. I carry it on my back to give hope. I definitely represent my city because I love it. I grew up in Pensacola. Where else But I think I loved growing up there. It was cool because there was a beach, I had a lot of great friends and I had a lot to do in the city. “
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6000 College Pkwy, Pensacola, FL 32504
During his time in Pensacola, Leatherwood represented the city as one of the most aggressive linemen in the country. He attended Booker T. Washington High School, where he had reached a consensus five-star outlook by third grade. By 2017, he was number one overall in Florida and number four nationwide.
At Booker T. Washington, his head coach was Charlie Ward, who won the 1993 Heisman Trophy. This is one of the greatest college athletes of all time. Ward won the National Championship in Florida, was named the All-American ACC Athletes of the Year twice, and was later inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
He also saw the potential of a young aggressive lineman almost immediately and did his best to maximize it.
“He was a sophomore in my first year [coaching] “He was well-built, had long arms, and was very athletic,” Ward said. He was strong-you saw it-but he had to mature and continue to grow during his years. He had to be pushed a bit when I first got there, but he was happy to receive the coach. It definitely helps his level of talent. “
The success and name recognition of both Ward and Leatherwood did not match the victory in the field-Booker T. Washington’s highest record during his tenure was 4-6-but other highly advertised. A new employee may have transferred to high school Powerhouse Leatherwood chose to stay in place.
“I didn’t want to give up on my team,” he says now. “I started in Washington, so I wanted to stay there and see it. Thanks to my relationships with my coaches and teammates, I felt it was more valuable than going elsewhere.”
That loyalty is what Ward was most impressed with about him.
“He chose to stay and be the leader we needed to be in school,” Ward said.
It was Leatherwood’s first taste of being an alpha dog in the locker room, and he admits to Ward that he helped make it happen.
“Of course, his name is important only for him and his career and what he did, but what I learned from it is mostly-I learned the importance of leadership,” says Leatherwood. I did. “It felt like we had a hard time before he became the head coach. It was still an ongoing task when he was there. But he showed great leadership in the team and in the team. By uniting, I really learned. Its importance. “
920 Paul W Bryant Dr., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Leadership and unity are common themes following leatherwood from Pensacola, Florida to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A five-star product with dozens of Power Five conference offers has stalled between participation in Alabama, USC, and Florida. “Alabama culture and tradition” was the number one factor in choosing Crimson Tide. Crimson Tide had just lost 35-31 in the National Championship game.
“I wanted to go to a program where I could compete on the national stage every week,” he said. “Face the best competition and win in the end. I wanted to win. That’s all I wanted to do. I just wanted to be part of the winning program and the tradition of winning. “
The two national championships and the US Open proved that it was the right decision for Leatherwood. He was nominated as captain of Crimson Tide, an undefeated senior season, but one of Leatherwood’s biggest contributions to Crimson Tide may not have come out on the field.
In July 2020, Leatherwood gathered teammates to protest the deaths of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Armor Berry, and other unjustly dead African-Americans. The Black Lives Matter movement ignited from the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting and reached new heights with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May 2020.
Leatherwood is an important part of organizing a march for Tuscaloosa players and coaches, and wrote the spoken word part of the video to support the movement. The video included him, Mac Jones, Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith, Patrick Sirtain II, and Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban.
The message was very personal to many and more resonated thanks to Leatherwood’s leadership position.
“In order for a group of people to achieve something, everyone needs to be together, on the same page, and have the same mission,” Leatherwood confidently said in his voice. rice field. “And just do what they have to do to get it done.
“When it comes to protests, it all started in the summer. It was COVID and we were crushing because we wanted to have more seasons. And we were always in Bama National Championships. But while being sharpened outside the walls of the building, there was a lot of social turmoil, but not all of us were ignoring it, so we still got the job done. I wanted to find the best way to continue. It’s done, but let the world know how we felt about what was happening.
“Because we are at the University of Alabama, we know we have a huge platform, so [I thought] You need to write a script that is very comprehensive, educational, and aware of what is happening. So I just came up with something. It was the words that came to my mind and mind that I felt should be spoken. Then the whole team stood behind it and read the script. “
Its ability to set an example and lead in and out of the field is what Savan most valued for leatherwood during his time in Alabama.
“I think Alex is probably doing more than anyone else, from the examples he set up, how he competes and how he plays,” Savan said in the 2021 draft. Said before. “He’s a little quiet guy, but he’s certainly set an example and has done a really really good job all year long, both inside and outside the field. He shows that the team is really important to him. I think it’s important to him in the team of players.
“He was really well matured and played very consistently for us.”
3333 Al Davis Way, Las Vegas, NV 89118
The first impression of Alex Leatherwood from Raider Nation was through an ESPN live-action draft camera panning towards him dancing with his mother in the living room of Pensacola, Florida.
“What was happening in your mind? What was happening in your mind when you realized you were being drafted?” I said about the night when his NFL dream came true. I asked Leatherwood.
“To be honest, nothing was happening in my mind, but I had a lot of emotions,” he replied. “I went back to fourth grade in Alabama and became a better player with the sole purpose of becoming a better player, so the entire season, the entire offseason, and the pre-draft process led to that call. I finally got my weight off my shoulders. I knew that all the work wasn’t wasted, so I finally knew what all the work was for. It was refreshing. . “
Since arriving in Las Vegas, many Leatherwood teammates and coaches have described the rookie as a man with few words.
“He doesn’t say much. If I say,’Hey, what’s the dog? There’s a lot of it from him,” Ritchie Incognito joked.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable has labeled leatherwood as unorthodox. This attracted him to the right effort. He hasn’t come across as many rookie offensive linemen in his career as Leatherwood’s detail-oriented and unobtrusive persona.
“He’s very introverted, and sometimes he’s even a little geek, and it’s cool for O-Lineman,” Cable said at a news conference. “I don’t have to worry about him raising hell, doing this, doing it, and he’s a pretty focused guy. He’s very smart … He is very well read. It’s not very typical for athletes or anyone. ” “He likes to keep it a reality-if it’s the right word.”
In Cable’s comment on leatherwood, the two words “focused” and “real” stand out. It jumped out to me immediately when talking to Leatherwood. He’s quiet, but it’s not a standoff type of quiet. It’s a laser-focused spirit of all the business he has about himself. It’s even turned on to another level since he was drafted.
“The biggest thing I’ve felt changed about myself is the way I think about my work,” said Leatherwood. “How do you perfect your skills and make your approach to this game very business-like?”
“I love you [football]But at the same time, at the end of the day I just love to compete. I want to be more energetic every day than the day before. “
With two pre-season victories, Leatherwood was impressed and appears to be in the league. He had several opportunities to show off his strength and promote the Raiders run game. The Raiders run game averaged just over 118 yards in the two pre-season games. He also finished his pre-season victory over Rams with a 74.6 PFF grade.
General Manager Mike Mayok named him the first correct tackle after being drafted. Veteran newcomers are asked to do a lot very early on. Expectations are high. Fans hope he can grow into a bookend across from Colton Miller on the left tackle over the years to come.
Best of all, you can always rely on the fact that he is a giant from Pensacola, Florida.
And those wide shoulders are accustomed to carrying the weight of leadership.
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Alex Leatherwood’s actions have always been more eloquent than his words
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