Toledo Start QB Brad Leetsma holds 14 school passing records and nearly every passing record in the Toledo City League and he still has his senior year ahead of him. He is also looking to lead the Spartans this year to their first postseason in the program's 45-year history.
Matt Natali caught up with Start head coach Pat Gucciardo for more on this Northwest Ohio talent.
In the 45-year history of Toledo Start football, the Spartans have yet to qualify the postseason.
But head coach Pat Gucciardo, who is entering his sixth season at the helm, is hoping the streak is snapped behind his talented senior QB Brad Leetsma.
As a sophomore, Leetsma was 124-of-219 passing for 1,791 yards with 16 TDs and eight INTs in six games and was 157-of-236 passing for 2,486 yards, 17 TDs and nine INTs in 11 games his junior season (includes the Toledo City League Hall of Fame Game).
For his career thus far, Leetsma (6-2, 175) holds 14 school records and is the all-time leading passer in the Toledo City League with 4,323 yards and 33 TDs with his senior season on the horizon.
“He has excellent fundamentals and technique,” Gucciardo said. “He is a great leader and is very tough. He has a great understanding of coverages and blitz schemes as well. Brad does an outstanding job of changing protection when needed and hitting ‘hot’ receivers.”
Running a Steve Spurrier-type offense, Leetsma is a Pro-Style QB and a prototypical pocket passer, according to Gucciardo.
“He has great football smarts,” the coach said. “He can make every throw from the pocket and throws between the linebackers well, which is the most difficult throw we ask him to make. He puts it on a frozen rope between the backers.”
Leetsma has drawn some major Division I college interest for the talent he has displayed in 17 games. He has had Iowa, Purdue, Cincinnati, Northwestern, Clemson, Indiana and all the MAC schools asking about him.
He camped at Michigan last summer and recently participated in a mini-camp at Toledo.
“The coaches at Michigan last year were all impressed and every Toledo coach that saw him at the mini-camp was impressed,” Gucciardo said. “Coaches have nothing but respect for him. He is a leader on the field, although he is not necessarily a vocal leader.”
Leetsma has yet to receive any offers, however. Colleges are taking a wait-and-see approach because he will need to get his grades in order. After coping with personal family tragedy last year, his grades slipped; but Gucciardo said Leetsma is still eligible to play this fall and should be able to improve his GPA enough to qualify for a college scholarship.
With football season just around the corner, Gucciardo feels getting back to the grid iron will be a release for Leetsma and he has already noticed a difference.
“He is at weights everyday and is one of the hardest workers when we are in there,” Gucciardo said. “When he is here and with the team, he is not thinking about other things and I think other activities can help any kid.”
As Leetsma continues to improve both on and off the football field, Gucciardo looks forward to what the upcoming season has in store for Start – and what the future holds for his talented QB.
“Given the chance, he could compete (at the D-I level),” Gucciardo said. “He is a diamond in the rough and is going to be a great player for somebody. He is athletic enough and is at least a mid-major if not a down-the-liner Big Ten player.
“He is just a great kid.”