Ex-Delmar star Leatherbury turns into standout WR at Towson

Shane Leatherbury has developed into an All-CAA wideout at Towson. Courtesy of Towson Athletics

BALTIMORE — Rob Ambrose likes to think of some of his players as coming from ‘The Land of Misfit Toys.’

The Towson football coach says he’s taken his share of high school kids that other college programs didn’t want.

“We see something in them that maybe some other people couldn’t see,” said Ambrose. “When you come to our place, you have an opportunity — always.”

Ambrose brings all this up because he says Shane Leatherbury is the perfect example of one of those players who shine when they’re given a chance.

An All-Henlopen Conference Southern Division quarterback at Delmar High, Leatherbury played a year at Division III Seton Hill and then spent some time at Wor-Wic (Md.) Community College.

Now entering his third season at Division I FCS Towson, the senior wide receiver has clearly proven he can play at this level.

A first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association wide receiver last fall, he’s an All-CAA preseason pick again this year.

Ambrose said at last week’s CAA Media Day that Leatherbury deserves all the credit for getting where he is right now.

“He’s a talented, smart, hard-working kid,” said Ambrose. “He has a chip on his shoulder. He decided that this level was for him. He didn’t (just) want it, he was going to take it.

“He’s one of the hardest-working, best human beings I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. … I will tell you that watching guys like him come into the program, work hard, grow, and take this on his family, that’s why I’m smiling.”

Now a 5-foot-10, 183-pound criminal justice major, Leatherbury had 67 catches as a junior — the third-highest total in program history. Those catches went for 885 yards and seven touchdowns.

Leatherbury had at least five receptions in nine games, pulling in a season-high 10 catches in a game against James Madison. He had three contests with over 100 yards in receiving.

The Tigers are picked to finish second in the CAA this season behind only James Madison. Leatherbury is just one reason why Towson is optimistic.

“He’s goes out there and he works on his craft,” said Tigers’ quarterback Tom Flacco, who was named the CAA preseason Offensive Player of the Year. “And Shane’s a guy who’s going to have fun with it, too. He’s helping the whole team have fun out there. He really loves the game. He’s always out there getting extra work with me or whoever it is.

“He’s a fun dude. He’s someone that you want to be around.”

Ambrose said just having a player like Leatherbury, with his work ethic and attitude, helps make Towson a better team. Whether he was a longshot or not, he said Leatherbury has earned his teammates’ respect.

“There’s a lot of places, if you don’t get a scholarship (out of high school), your life is over,” said Ambrose. “Our guys don’t care if you’re on scholarship or not. They care about each other, they care about winning, they care about the work it takes to get that done.

“He (Leatherbury) is a kid who says, ‘Look, I may not have been somebody, but I am now.’”

Extra points

• Dover High grad Triston Harris is also a member of Towson’s football squad. The redshirt junior quarterback is expected to back up Flacco after recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him all last season.

“His injury made him better,” said Ambrose. “Now he doesn’t rely so much on just getting by. He’s had to be technically sound.”

• Ambrose said there were no hard feelings when his brother, Jared, left Towson’s staff to become the offensive coordinator at rival Delaware last December. Jared was Towson’s OC for the past seven seasons.

“This conversation is one that started a couple years ago,” said Rob Ambrose. “I always knew this was coming. I tell them all, I want them to come (to Towson), I want them to coach and be good; I want them to grow and learn and then I want them to leave. I want them to do it somewhere else.”

• Delaware opens preseason practice today with an 8:45 a.m. session. Most of their practices start at 8:45 a.m., including sessions with referees on Aug. 15 and 17.

The Blue Hens are slated to practice at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 in preparation for their 7 p.m. opener with Delaware State on Aug. 29.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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