Leonhard’s story is well known in the state. He walked on at Wisconsin, became a three-time All-American at safety, played in the NFL for 10 years and then joined the Badgers coaching staff in 2016 before taking over as defensive coordinator at year later.
In Leonhard’s five years with Wisconsin, the Badgers defense ranks in the top-10 in the country in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, passing defense, pass efficiency defense, third-down defense, turnovers forced and interceptions.
Leonhard played for Pettine and Rex Ryan while they were in Baltimore and New York. Pettine also brought him to Buffalo for one year. Leonhard has taken on many of the same defensive traits as his former coaches, though he’s shown to be more aggressive in his approach than Pettine was during his time in Green Bay.
Several of the more prominent programs in the country have come calling for Leonhard to be their defensive coordinator in the past few years, including Alabama after the 2017 season. But he turned down every offer and seemed entrenched at Wisconsin unless a college head coaching job opportunity came up or he got interest from the NFL. The latter has now happened.