Leach living his childhood dream

Published 1:26 am Sunday, January 20, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Vonta Leach was certainly a fan favorite when he played for the East Carolina Pirates. It had as much to do with his personality as it did with his play.
The 6-0, 250-pounder can usually be found wearing a big grin. And he’s certainly never at a loss for words.
A regular-quote machine, Leach has quickly become a favorite among the Houston Texans’ fans. The starting fullback will begin the second of a four-year contract with the team next year.
While Leach obviously has the size and skills to play in the NFL, he said he never would have made it had it not been for a strong work ethic in the classroom.
Leach was successful in the classroom and on the field at South Robeson High School, which led to his chance to play at ECU.
Getting there is only half the battle. Leach said an athlete has to separate himself from the others.
A lucky few will get the opportunity to play at the ultimate level — the NFL. Leach said he enjoys playing among the best, but admitted that not everybody is cut out to play in the league.
Leach has been productive and that’s what has kept him around. Though used primarily as a blocking back, he posted career-highs with 25 catches for 108 yards and two receiving touchdowns last year. He also had a rushing touchdown.
There’s much more to running, blocking and hitting people for three-plus hours every Sunday. Leach said there’s plenty that the common fan doesn’t realize about the life of an NFL player.
Leach also said his job, which can be brutal, lasts longer than the NFL season.
Leach is happy to know where he’ll be going when training camp rolls around. Many NFL players are playing the waiting game, waiting for contracts to be signed or waiting to hear offers.
Leach, who said his main goals are to “be the best fullback in the NFL” and to “help the Texans get to the playoffs,” hasn’t forgotten from where he came. He donates his time and money in trying to help out those less fortunate than himself.
The generous NFL star gave four, $500 scholarships to high school seniors who will be entering college; sponsored 50 families at Christmas and gave them turkeys and the trimmings, and presented $100 gift cards to 30 kids at Christmas.
He’s also involved in the high school matching grant program where he gave $5,000 to his former school and the NFL matched the donation.
While he is ready to begin his fifth season in the NFL and he’s able to help out those in need, Leach said he’ll never take it for granted.