Tanner Leach is planning to play football at Alderson-Broaddus College, which is scheduled to kick off its debut season as a member of NCAA Division II this upcoming fall.
On national signing day Wednesday, the Marietta Tiger senior committed to A-B, which is located in Phillippi, W.Va.
"It was a club team last year and went 9-2," said the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Leach. "I visited other schools, but I liked the A-B coach a lot, and was real impressed with their stadium and facilities. It's a growing program, and I'll get a chance to start as a freshman."
Times file photo
Marietta High senior Tanner Leach (52) and Tigers’ head coach Adam Eichhorn, right, discuss a play during a practice session last fall. Leach will be playing collegiately at Alderson-Broaddus this upcoming fall.
Leach is expected to be positioned on the defensive line as either an end or tackle or both.
Dennis Creehan is the Alderson-Broaddus head coach and athletic director, and the team is scheduled to play its home games at new Multi-Sport Performance Stadium. The Battlers' season and home opener will be against Pace (N.Y.) University on Sept. 7.
Leach has been training with MHS assistant and professional football player Luke Black since the end of the Tigers' 2012 season.
"I've been with Tanner to see a lot of schools, and he's getting the best four-year, package deal with Alderson-Broaddus," Black said.
Leach will be getting a "full ride" at A-B. There, he says he will be majoring in business.
At Marietta in his senior season, Leach played on both sides of the ball, and was credited on defense with 57 total tackles, 28 solo, 29 assisted, 17.5 tackles for losses, three sacks, one forced fumble, and one blocked kick.
Leach was an All-East Central Ohio League second-team and All-Marietta Times honoree at the conclusion of the campaign.
"Tanner has worked very hard in the three years that I have coached him to get to this point," said MHS head coach Adam Eichhorn. "Playing at the collegiate level has been a goal of his since I've known him, and he has earned every bit of that opportunity.
"A-B is definitely getting the type of player that will make a difference in their program."
Leach will become the fourth Tiger in the last two years to go on and compete at the collegiate level in football. Dustin Baker is currently at Thiel (Pa.) College; Mitchel Gearhart attends at Gannon (Pa.) Univeristy; and Justin Futrell plays at Cornell (Ia.) College.
"These are great examples of where hard work and dedication can get you," Eichhorn said.
Leach is the son of Jami and Sherry (stepmother) Leach, and Melissa Carver (mother). He has two older sisters (Ashley Dye and Stephanie Leach) and a younger one (Jaden Leach).
"It's going to be great to be a part of the first year at Alderson-Broaddus," Tanner Leach said.