Former UH punter adjusts to NFL lifestyle
Being drafted into the NFL might seem overwhelming, but former Houston punter Richie Leone is taking it all in stride. The Daily Cougar caught up with Leone, where we spoke about the anxiousness of fighting for a position on the Baltimore Ravens and the opportunity it presents.
The Daily Cougar: You’re from Georgia and you went to school down south in Texas, how was it adjusting to being up north in Baltimore?
Richie Leone: Baltimore is pretty similar to Atlanta, where I’m from. Where the facilities are at in Owings Mills, a suburb in Baltimore, reminds me a lot of my hometown. Heavily wooded, a little country, very pretty, but as far as the surrounding area in Baltimore, it’s great. They’re big football fans and they love the Ravens. There hasn’t been a huge change and I’m really enjoying the scenery of a new city and changing my horizons.
TDC: How did it feel when you found out you were going to be playing in the NFL for the Ravens?
RL: It was unreal, I was so happy to get an opportunity. One with an organization like the Ravens who has won Superbowls in the past, and being there with a great coach like coach (John) Harbaugh is really uplifting. He has a background in special teams so it’s kind of similar in my situation going to Houston with Coach (Tony) Levine, somebody who has a special teams background and I’m kind of doing the same thing up in Baltimore.
TDC: How’s the competition at the punter position for the Ravens, and how do you think you stacked up?
RL: The competition has been well. I’m competing with a guy named Sam Cook, who has been a great punter for a long time and he’s been very helpful to me as far as teaching me the ins and outs of some punting techniques and some fine-tuning techniques. He’s been really great and has taught me a lot about holding, which is new for me. He’s a great holder, and has held for three pro-bowl kickers in his career, so he’s got to be doing something right.
It’s been going well as far as numbers go. I finished pretty well in OTA’s and in minicamp, so we’ve got a good competition going, but I’m just thankful that Sam has been there for me and has been able to help me out along the way.
TDC: How would you say your time at UH has helped you in particular? Did you enjoy your experience here?
RL: Absolutely! Being with coach Levine who has an NFL special teams background kind of helped me become the punter that I am today, as far as being very goal oriented with everything in practice and treating things professionally, even at a collegiate level. That’s what Coach Levine helped me to understand.
College and pro are similar, but it’s different and it’s a lot of fun. Both of them are great environments to be in, the professional environment is great.
TDC: So, what are your goals for your first season in the NFL?
RL: My goals are to first off make the team. They’re not going to keep two punters on the squad, so right now I’m just taking it a day at a time. That’s what we got, six weeks up there and I just focus on making each day good and string along those days and see where we’re at down the road. Going out and competing and having good practices, getting those small wins and hopefully it will transition me to making an NFL roster.