Terrence Leffall arrived at Howard in the summer of 2008 as a 190-pound walk-on safety. More than three years and countless three-a-day workouts later, the Georgia native has added 20 pounds of muscle, a full scholarship and the role of workhorse running back.
Howard leaned heavily on Leffall in Saturday’s 20-10 win over Hampton at Greene Stadium, and thanks to a body thickened in the school’s weight room, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior gladly shouldered the load. He finished with a season-high 182 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries as the Bison (6-3, 5-2 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) clinched their first winning season since 2004.
“I never go home,” said a grinning Leffall, explaining the secret to his success. “Unless it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’m not going back. I’m up here training, working, trying to get better.”
Leffall had a team-record 42 carries in last season’s 10-7 win over Hampton, and Howard Coach Gary Harrell followed a similar formula for Saturday’s matchup. Leffall passed the 100-yard mark midway through the second quarter on Saturday and continued gashing the Pirate defense into the game’s final minutes.
“We looked at last year’s film and felt like if it’s not broken, why try to fix it?” said Harrell, whose team had lost 14 straight to Hampton before last season . “We felt like we had some leverage in the run game, and we wanted to stick with that.”
Hampton (2-6, 2-4) played without its starting quarterback and top running back because of injuries and couldn’t muster enough offense to keep up.
Leffall’s 18-yard touchdown run on third and long late in the first half put Howard up 13-0, and his eight-yard dash three minutes into the fourth quarter pushed the Bison’s lead back to two scores.
The performance continued a strong push by Leffall — whom Harrell calls the team’s hardest worker — in a senior year that was threatened before it even started. Leffall had finally been bumped up to a full scholarship after leading Howard with 893 rushing yards in 2011, but he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for three games to start this season for receiving improper benefits.
Since rejoining the backfield, Leffall has been the team’s most productive offensive player. He has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in all six games he’s played and seems to be getting stronger.
After Saturday’s bruising effort, Leffall said he looked forward to a dip in the cold tub, but added that he’s sure to be ready for a full workload when the Bison make the long bus trip to top-ranked Georgia Southern next week.
“I have a serious training regimen, and I know that’s what helps take the pain off the pounding,” Leffall said. “From as soon as the season ends until August 1 when camp starts, I’m working out about three times a day. That’s what I have to do.”