Since the beginning of the season the Razorbacks have relied heavily on the experience and senior leadership that strong safety Walner Leandre brings to the table.
Leandre has always enjoyed and excelled at the game of football at every level he has played. Before playing at the collegiate ranks Walner played his high school days at Plant High School in Tampa Bay, Fla.
“I loved playing in Tampa and I miss it,” Leandre said. “At Plant I got to play against some of the best athletes in the country and it was really competitive.”
After playing his high school days in Tampa, Lenadre decided that he wanted to play at the next level. That was of course every high school player’s goal, to make a college roster.
Leandre did make that first college roster, but it wasn’t time for him to become a Razorback quite yet. First it was off to the junior college ranks where Leandre played his first two seasons in Texas at Blinn Junior College. While at Blinn, Leandre helped take his team to the NJCAA national championship and was named as an NJCAA second-team All-American.
“Playing at Blinn was a great experience,” Leandre said. “I didn’t start my freshman year but my second year I played and got All-American. It was real nice I met a lot of nice people and got to learn the game better by not jumping straight to Division I.”
Leandre’s 70 tackles, two pass breakups and two interceptions at Blinn were enough for Rivals.com to name him the No. 86 junior college prospect in the nation and earn him looks from not only the Arkansas, but also Utah and Hawai’i.
Although he was recruited by other schools the decision to become a Hog was an easy one for Leandre.
“I was in junior college and getting recruited heavily by Arkansas,” Leandre said. “I was really interested in Arkansas because they had a pretty good season and had just gone to the SEC championship that really put Arkansas up on my list.”
Once he donned the cardinal and white Leandre made an impact for the Hogs fast. In his first season as a Razorback he came away with 29 tackles, four quarterback hurries and had two pass breakups.
When Leandre is not on the field he still spends time with his teammates.
“We go to the movies, and we like to go out sometimes to the clubs and party a little bit with the teammates,” Leandre said. “I have several friends on this team like Jamar Love, he’s my roommate, Elston Forte, Dallas Washington, Antwain Robinson, Ernest Mitchell, Adrian Davis and Wendel Davis.”
One of Leandre’s most memorable moments as a Hog came in Baton Rouge, La., where the Razorbacks knocked off the eventual national champion and then top ranked LSU Tigers.
“It was a great game and it was one of the best games I have ever played in,” Leandre said. “That was a great feeling going to three overtimes.”
Just like so many other players in the locker room Walner has a pre-game routine to get himself ready to step on to the turf and lay his body on the line trying to do everything he can to get his team the win.
“I like to listen to my headphones,” Leandre said. “Most of the time we get to watch a couple other games and it gets me hyped up when I watch and I can say to myself that I could make that play.”
This week Leandre and the rest of the Razorbacks have their work cut out for them as the Tigers come to Little Rock with a bad taste in their mouth from last year’s loss and a burning desire to get some revenge.
“This game is going to be intense because they want “The Boot” back, but we don’t want to give it back though,” Leandre said. “We are going to play hard and we want to keep the boot here.”
Fans can be assured that they will see the best from Leandre and the other senior Hogs as the “Battle for the Golden Boot” will be the last time that they step on to a football field as Razorback.
“I know it is going to be sad because my college career has gone by so fast, like a blink of an eye it was really fast,” Leandre said.
Even though Leandre’s career as a Razorback has gone by in a blink of an eye, he has a plan for his future.
“I might give the NFL a shot,” Leandre said. “If that doesn’t work out I am still getting my degree and so I always have that as a good backup.”