It is no surprise to see wide receivers that want to play in Josh Heupel’s offense. The up-tempo, spread attack that Tennessee football runs has made superstars out of Cedric Tillman and Biletnikoff award winner Jalin Hyatt.
Here are five things to know about wide receiver Nathan Leacock, who has enrolled early with the Vols.
Where Leacock ranks
Leacock ranks as a four-star across the board. He measures out at 6-foot-3 and 200-pounds
247Sports ranks Leacock as the No. 14 wide receiver in his class and the No. 4 prospect from North Carolina.
ON3 has Leacock as the No. 10 wide receiver and the No. 4 prospect from North Carolina.
Rivals puts Leacock as the No. 16 wide receiver and the No. 4 prospect from North Carolina.
Tennessee football over who?
Leacock took official visits to Michigan, in-state North Carolina, and Tennessee before choosing the Vols.
Tennessee football extended the wideout a scholarship offer in November 2021. After his official visit this summer, he committed in late July.
He chose Tennessee football over N.C. State, North Carolina, Michigan and Kentucky, among others.
To say Leacock is fast would be an understatement. The track star runs a 10.88-second 100-meter dash, 22.45-second 200-meter, and a 48.76-second 400-meter.
His speed translates to the field, and he helped lead Millbrook High School in Raleigh to its first regional final in school history. He finished the year with 1,703 yards and 23 touchdowns on 82 receptions.
In 2021, Leacock finished with 38 receptions for 735 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also ran for 216 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries as a junior.
Why Tennessee football?
When wide receivers’ coach Kodi Burns left for a promotion with the New Orleans Saints, Heupel stayed in-house and promoted Kelsey Pope to the position. It paid off in the recruitment of Leacock.
Aside from wanting to play in an explosive offense, Leacock had formed relationships with Pope and the rest of Tennessee’s staff.
“With Tennessee, Coach Pope and I have built a really good relationship since he got the job,” Leacock told SI.com “I feel like it was a really good transition once he took over after the previous coach went to the Saints. I have been there, and I really like the campus. I feel like I have a good relationship with all of the coaches on staff.”
Brian Dohn of 247Sports scouted Leacock, and compared him to current Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.
“Big body type coveted by offensive coordinators to create matchup issues against smaller corners,” Dohn continues. “Impressive track speed (sub 11.00 in 100 meters) translates to field. Highly productive player with high touchdown-to-catch ratio. Tracks ball well and has reliable hands. Plays with field awareness and has good body control. Adjusts to inaccurate passes well. Knows how to use size to position body against smaller defensive backs. Shows ability to win 50-50 balls with regularity. Has strength throughout frame. Difficult to re-route off the line of scrimmage because of Size and strength. Is physical at top of routes. Can elevate and high point and is red-zone threat. Tough to bring down after catch. Knows how to set up defensive backs and keeps them off balance because of ability to go deep. Shows burst after catch to pierce defense and has speed to finish plays. Can make spectacular/acrobatic plays look routine. Willing to play in traffic. Has improved route running but has to continue to work on getting out of breaks more quickly. Is not overly elusive in open field. In line for early playing time at Top 20 program.”