Dallas Cowboys: Getting To Know Former Monmouth Hawk, Darnell Leslie

Dallas Cowboys Monmouth Darnell Leslie
Jun 13, 2017; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett watches his team stretch during minicamp at The Star at Cowboys World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Well sports fans, the NBA and NHL seasons have officially come to a close. While MLB may have the spotlight for the time being, that won’t last for too much longer. In just over a month, NFL Training Camps will begin to open. As a result, football will once again become the talk of the town.

One Training Camp that this writer will be playing close attention to is that of the Dallas Cowboys, which is set to open on July 22nd. Rookies will get some on field work on July 19th down in Texas, before the whole club reports to California.

So why does this writer have an extra interest in the Cowboys this Summer you may be asking? Well, it just so happens that a former classmate of mine, and former Monmouth Hawk football player, Darnell Leslie, will be there trying to earn his spot on the 53-man roster.

Leslie, an undrafted rookie from MU, will be entering his first NFL Training Camp. During his time with the Hawks, Leslie mainly played the position of defensive end. With Dallas, all signs point to the team trying him in the role of linebacker.

While making the shift from college ball to the pros is enough of a challenge, adding a position change to the mix just adds to the level of difficulty. But I have faith in Darnell. After being invited to rookie camp with the Tampa Bay Bucs and not making the cut, he wound up with the ‘Boys. Now Darnell will get his chance to shine within the competitive NFC East. Last week, I wrote about how he is Monmouth’s next NFL gem, which you can read about here.

Having spent the last four years on the same campus as Darnell, I have the privilege of being able to say I know him. As a result, I was fortunate enough to ask him a few questions as he prepares for his adventure into the pinnacle of the football world.

You can read Darnell’s responses to some of the questions I asked below.

1) What was it like to get the phone call from the Cowboys?
“Getting a call from the Dallas Cowboys was definitely a blessing. After things didn’t fall through with Tampa Bay, I was grateful to have another team still interested in working me out and giving me a chance to continue my dream”. -Darnell Leslie
2) What type of expectations are you going into training camp with?
“Based off what the coaches and current players have told me, I’m expecting it to be a 24/7 grind, physically and mentally. From making sure my body is in the best physical shape everyday to making sure that I can handle the play calls especially when I’m tired”. -Darnell Leslie
3) What do you feel will be your biggest adjustment from Monmouth to Dallas?
“I think my biggest adjustment from MU to Dallas will be continually getting used to playing outside linebacker from playing defensive end in college. I also think learning different coverages and how to react to the run game in terms of gap responsibility as well”. -Darnell Leslie
4) What do you feel is your greatest asset on the field?
“My biggest asset on the field would have to be my instincts.  From college to the NFL, the speed of the game is definitely faster but I think my instincts have saved a few times while playing at this level”.  -Darnell Leslie
5) When you arrived on Monmouth’s campus freshman year, did you think the NFL was a reality or more of a distant dream?
“I think it was more of a distant dream at that point. I’ve played ball my entire life and always dreamt of this opportunity but never really thought about it until I really began having success on the field at Monmouth”. -Darnell Leslie

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