Jakayus Leaphart is a young man of few words. His responses to questions usually elicit one- or two-word answers.
But the reticent Gilbert star running back has plenty to say on the football field, where the communication comes through action, not words.
In two seasons as an Indians starter, Leaphart piled up 3,293 rushing yards and scored 46 overall touchdowns. He took it to another level in his senior season – running for 2,004 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 182.1 yards per game and 8.1 yards per carry.
Leaphart is The State’s Offensive Player of the Year in the Midlands.
Leaphart was extraordinarily productive in the Indians’ five region games – amassing more yards (1,288) and touchdowns (19) during the brief span than he totaled during his junior season. He averaged 257.6 yards per game in conference outings with the highlight being a 353-yard effort in a wild 56-50 loss to region champion Swansea. He had three five-touchdown games in the Indians’ final four regular-season games.
“To be honest, Jakayus’ numbers are really impressive because he played on a team that did not have a great deal of ability,” said Gilbert coach Barry Harley. “Because of that, he did not receive much college interest until late in the season and when coaches got a chance to see him at the North-South game.
“If he played on a team like, say, Dutch Fork, there wouldn’t be a school in the country that wouldn’t know all about him.”
Gilbert is Leaphart’s third high school. Losing credits from his freshman year puts him in a position where he’ll have to start at the junior college level. Regardless, Harley believes Leaphart has the potential to play in the NFL.
“He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and he ran a 4.46 at the Shrine Bowl combine,” the Indians coach said. “He’s only going to get bigger, stronger and faster. If he stays healthy and takes care of the things he has to do, I can see him playing on Sundays. Right now, he is a SEC-, ACC-caliber back.”
Harley expects his late blooming star to continue to improve.
“When he showed up as a junior, you could see he had the physical tools, but he wasn’t in football shape and didn’t have the kind of football knowledge most guys his age have,” he said.
“But in a scrimmage, he planted his foot and exploded through a hole and you could just tell he was something special. He’s grown considerably since then. Now, he has the talent and the confidence.”