John Leglue received an undergraduate degree from Tulane after his junior season and will earn his master’s in business at the end of the fall semester, only 4½ after he arrived.
Still, it is possible he is showing just as much intelligence on the football field as in the classroom.
Barring injury, Leglue will complete the career trifecta on the offensive line, starting at guard all season after playing pivotal roles at tackle and center in the past.
He has done it all up front, no small accomplishment.
“I’d say the biggest deal is he’s a smart kid student-wise, but he’s also a smart football player,” coach Willie Fritz said. “Sometimes those don’t always go hand in hand, but it sure does with him. He understands what we’re doing.”
That has been true no matter where Leglue lined up. After redshirting in 2014 and starting once in 2015, he was set to start all of 2016 at right tackle. Instead, a season-ending injury to center Junior Diaz in the third game forced Leglue to move to the middle of the line. It was a significant adjustment, but he used his experience as the starting center from his freshman through his junior years at Holy Savior Menard High in Alexandria to get by.
Last season, he started the opener at left tackle before moving back to his comfort zone on the right side the rest of the way.
This year, though, the coaches shifted Leglue to right guard at the beginning of preseason camp as part of a wholesale shift to accommodate the arrival of South Alabama graduate transfer Noah Fisher, a second-team All-Sun Belt tackle in 2017.
If you think a fifth-year senior with 25 starts under his belt would have misgivings about changing positions, you don’t know Leglue.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” he said. “I just want to be reliable, and I want (offensive line) coach (Alex) Atkins to be able to count on me in anything he ever needs me to do. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.”
He insists the difference between tackle and guard — a position he never has played in a game — is not that dramatic and just a matter of adjusting his steps.
Leglue’s adaptability made the coaches’ decision easy. They were not going to ask someone to change spots without the confidence he could handle it.
“He's got some mass,” Fritz said. “He doesn't look like it, but he's 310 pounds, 6-foot-5, 6-6, a big guy. With us and what we're doing running that inside zone play, we need some mass inside to get some movement.”
Having experienced nothing but losing seasons in his time at Tulane, Leglue offers concrete reasons for why the program is upward bound. He says the talent level Fritz and his staff bring in at their summer camps — resulting in numerous signings — dwarfs the camp he attended the summer before his senior year in high school.
Combine that increase with high-level coaching, and he sees good times ahead. He swears by Atkins.
“He knows how to handle his business,” Leglue said. “He gives the offensive linemen the whole picture so you understand the scheme and why we run things. We know exactly why we’re doing it and what to expect.”
Although his own path has branched out more than he planned, Leglue does not regret for a moment his decision to choose the Wave. He de-committed from Louisiana-Lafayette less than a week before signing day in 2014, heading to Tulane primarily for its academics.
He wants to enjoy the best of both worlds this fall, vying for All-American Athletic Conference honors for the first time and earning a bowl bid while finishing the two classes he needs for his MBA.
“My parents just wanted me to really consider the next 40 to 50 years (when he picked a school),” he said. “I’m really excited about my future on and off the field. Tulane puts their athletes on a whole another level when it comes to job success. Football is going to end one day and having that Tulane degree, you'll get a job over other people in the state. I had a class in Paris, and everybody in France knew what Tulane was. It's a world renowned program.”