Leonard Johnson is living out a dream season, the home area kid out of Largo High School went from an undrafted free agent to a starting cornerback for the Buccaneers.
He says it's too early to soak in all this season has had to offer, and that's because his mother helps to keep him grounded. As a family decision Johnson moved back in with his mother and step-dad during training camp. They wanted the rookie who was wrapped up in a stiff battle for a roster spot, to put all his concentration on making his mother's favorite team.
Johnson and his family used to attend Bucs' game as he grew up, and now he's sharing the Bucs' secondary with still his mother Schanique's favorite player Ronde Barber.
"Leonard came home with a pair of cleats signed by Ronde, and I said are those for me," questioned Schanique Harris. "He said no these are for me."
That was a phrase atypical for Johnson, who's proved off the field that he's a continual giver and that's due in large part to the life lessons taught to him by Schanique.
You see Johnson isn't only trying to make an impact on the field for Tampa Bay, he's trying to do it off the field as well.
"My work in the community started a long time ago when I was in and out of trouble in middle school, I can remember my mom sending me to different nursing homes and handing out Teddy Bears to kids," said Johnson.
Along with his eight siblings Johnson was taught a lot of structure growing up. Schanique set the standard when telling her children they had three days after graduating high school to figure out where their life was headed and where they're going to live.
"We had barriers, kind of like a bowling alley, the bouncers, we put bouncers on him, so when he decided he was going to bounce out of line he had something to put him back on track," said Harris.
Johnson left yesterday's game briefly with an arm injury, but instead of going home to ice it he was trying to get others back on track in life. After the game he joined his family and friends at Pinellas Safe Harbor to serve meals to the homeless.
The loss was still fresh on Johnson's mind but it was hard to wipe the warm smile from his face as he greeted people coming in out of the cold.
"I'm hear passing out food and I'm hearing everyone say, oh you guys lost, oh better luck next year, ya know that taste is still in my mouth, from us losing, but it definitely softens my heart, and makes me feel like I am doing a good deed," said Johnson.
"It shows his commitment to what he's already started, in these hours and times like this that these people are important," said Schanique.
Those important principals Schanique and her husband Charles have instilled in Johnson are now benefiting the Tampa Bay area in two capacities.
"It's all genuine and I like doing stuff like this, because the people you encounter, the people that you meet, can also make an impact on your life just as I can make an impact on theirs'," said Johnson.