Matt Leidner, a junior offensive lineman from Lakeville South, helped lead the Cougars to a 7-3 mark last season. He is the younger brother of current Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner and has attended several Minnesota spring football practices to watch his older sibling.
Leidner is getting looks from several schools, including Minnesota and he talked to GopherHole.com recently about the latest on his recruitment, the possibility of playing with his brother again and thoughts of the upcoming season.
Gopher Hole: You recently went down to Northern Iowa. How was that?
Matt Leidner: It was great. We went down and watched the spring practice. We got to tour the campus and I really liked it. I liked the coaches, too.
Gopher Hole: What Junior Days or practices have you had a chance to go to?
Matt Leidner: I’ve been to South Dakota State. The U of M. I have been to a lot of U of M’s practices to watch my brother. I went to UNI, Northern Illinois on the 23rd and I am going to Augustana and North Dakota on the 28th.
Gopher Hole: Are those the main schools that you are hearing from?
Matt Leidner: Yes. Those schools and the two North Dakota schools.
Gopher Hole: What position are most schools looking at you playing? Center or another position?
Matt Leidner: Mainly center, just because I’m not a very tall offensive lineman. I can also long snap, too, so maybe even that position.
Gopher Hole: Did you long snap last year?
Matt Leidner: Yes, I did.
Gopher Hole: The previous long snapper at Lakeville South, Mitch Hall, is a preferred walk-on at Missouri now. Is that something that you think could help you since long snapping is such a specialized skill that many teams need?
Matt Leidner: Yes. That is something that I have talked to coaches about and they always say that it is an extra thing that we can recruit you for.
Gopher Hole: Are you looking to earn a scholarship or because questions about your size would you have to be a walk-on or do you know that yet?
Matt Leidner: I’m not that short. I’m 6-2, so I think that I can definitely be a scholarship player, maybe not at a big school like the U of M, but definitely at Division I-AA or the Division II schools.
Gopher Hole: What are you up to right now, height and weight-wise?
Matt Leidner: Six-foot-2 and I weight 270 pounds. I had a tight end at Northern Iowa and he asked me if I played linebacker and I said “No, I weigh 270 pounds.” I kind of have big legs.
Gopher Hole: What do you see as your strengths as a football player?
Matt Leidner: I have really quick feet. I played basketball for a lot of years. It helps me be fast off the ball and be at a good pad level.
Gopher Hole: What are some of the things that you are working on to improve yourself as a player?
Matt Leidner: I would say upper body power, so I can finish the hits and knock people over more.
Gopher Hole: Have you and your brother talked about playing together?
Matt Leidner: Yes. Mitch always tells me to go to every “U” practice that I can. That would be a dream school to play with Mitch. Kind of like old times. It is kind of the goal that I want to do, to play with Mitch in college.
Gopher Hole: Is it going to be weird this year snapping to someone else?
Matt Leidner: Yes, it is going to be different. There was always a lot of pressure just to do everything right (before), but I think that I will have a lot more freedom, which means I’ll probably be able to hit a lot harder and not be as scared like I am missing a block.
Gopher Hole: You were more likely to hear about it at practice and at home if you missed a block or had bad snap with your brother as the quarterback, right?
Matt Leidner: Yes.
Gopher Hole: What are the expectations for South this upcoming season? You had a good season last year and came up just a little short against Lakeville North in the section finals.
Matt Leidner: Everyone is saying that it is going to be a rebuild year, but I wouldn’t say that. Our only problem right now is we need a quarterback. We have depth in a lot of positions besides the quarterback spot. We have a lot of skilled position players. We have good receivers, so we need someone who can put the ball in the hands of the receivers. We have a big tight end, who is 6-3 and 220 pounds. We have a bunch of fast receivers. There is one who is a lot like Matt Heller (who signed with Augustana). On our defense, we have a lot of returning guys. We are going to have a really good linebacker set this year. They will be able to stop the run and hopefully the pass, too.
Gopher Hole: You mentioned that you used to play basketball. Do you play another other sports now or do you just concentrate on football?
Matt Leidner: Strictly football right now. I might doing track this year. I might go out. Otherwise, I’ll do it next year.
Gopher Hole: What events would you do? Shot put and discus?
Matt Leidner: Yes. I have done a few practices because the coach asked me to do them. I have been out with a back injury for the past month, so I am just getting recovered from that, so I am going to go out and practice with them again.
Gopher Hole: What are you hearing from the Gopher coaches?
Matt Leidner: They reviewed my film and I talked to them and they said that it was just a matter of coming to camp and if I do good, I will have the potential to get a scholarship.
Gopher Hole: That is something you would love to hear, right?
Matt Leidner: Oh, yes. That is why I am training right now and getting ready for camp and show them what I got and hopefully, that works out.
Gopher Hole: What camps are you planning to attend this summer?
Matt Leidner: Right now, I’m pretty sure that I have them all set. I am going to U of M, Northern Iowa, Northern Illinois. I think that I am going to go ot North Dakota State and University of Minnesota Duluth. Those are the five main ones.