Hard to believe, but there are under 80 days until the Broncos storm the Capital to take on the Hokies. As you may remember, last summer I embarked on the Herculean task of counting down a different roster spot for each remaining day until kickoff. So far this year, we're batting a thousand, so drop me notes of encouragement now and again so I can find the strength to get through the next couple months without breaking the streak.
We've got 78 days until kickoff ... so today we'll be taking a look at number 78 on the Bronco roster—Charles Leno
#78, Charles Leno, RS Freshman, OT
Weight: 275 lbs. (unless you ask Broncosports, which sadly, we usually do)
High School: San Leandro High School, Oakland, CA
How'd he get to The Blue?
As a three-year letter-winner in basketball at San Leandro, Charles Leno might not be the guy you'd expect to draw comparisons to All-Pro offensive tackle Ryan Clady, but that's exactly what many are saying about the big, athletic lineman. Of course, Leno played a little football at the Oakland-area high school as well—gaining first-team all-conference honors as an offensive tackle and second-team all-conference honors as a defensive end his senior year. But rather than bore you with further accolades from his prep career, take a look at what ESPN said about Leno shortly before he committed to play for the Broncos in the class of 2009:
Leno is on prime time when he's on the field. He has very good size and is extremely athletic. Runs more like a tight end than a tackle; gives great effort when leading downfield on the screen pass or getting crossfield to pick up a defender.
Leno was also offered a scholarship by Idaho, Utah, UNLV, San José State, and San Diego State.
"Late Show" [leyt shoh]
This one was really lazy...but come on, the kid's last name is Leno—what am I, a wizard?
Selected Bay Area "Cream of the Crop" while at San Leandro. Named first-team All-Metro.
Scholarship offers from San José State and Idaho mean that at some point, Robb Akey and Dick Tomey may have sat on his couch. Thank God for Febreze®.
While not as physically imposing as Ryan Clady, Leno has been compared to the Bronco great by some who have seen his physicality and footwork at tackle. Trust me, if scout's ever say that a D-1 offensive tackle "runs like a tight end", you may have a very special talent on your hands. Whether Leno is ready to pull the trigger after a year of redshirting to become an impactful Bronco O-lineman remains to be seen, but I wouldn't bet against him embedding himself at LT as early as this year. With All-WAC OT Nate Potter shifting to guard, the tackle position will lose some significant experience, but gain some young, talented and athletic hopefuls. Faraji Wright might have got more snaps at LT this spring, but Fall Camp can be a different beast and I think Leno's experience at DE will probably help him gain ground on the mental side of things, and his athleticism will surely be needed when defending Kharyee Marshall in camp. Broncosports says he's only 250, but they are historically atrocious at updating heights and weights— I hear tell he's approaching 280, so that's what we're going with. Brenel Myers' surprisingly smooth play against All-American Jerry Hughes in the Fiesta Bowl probably means he's the frontrunner at RT heading into the Fall, so I don't anticipate Leno flip-flopping on the line unless there are extenuating circumstances. Bottom line for Leno...he's got a good battle coming up in camp, so keep a close eye on this race. I'm sure he'll get some starts right out of the gate, and if he performs admirably, can help Chris Strausser put the brakes on the O-line musical chairs that we've seen the last few seasons. I have a feeling that Leno's at least at even odds to be the starting LT against Virginia Tech.
Completely made up fact
Leno once appeared on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a young Uncle Phil in a flashback sequence.