Jim Leonhard’s younger brother playing football at UW-L


There’s a new player in UW-La Crosse’s defensive backfield this season, and he has a familiar last name for Wisconsin fans.

“I’m like, hey, if you guys want to go get on TV, just come stand next to Leonhard over here,” Head Coach Joel Dettwiler said.

That’s right, Tyler Leonhard, Jim Leonhard’s younger brother, is playing football at UW-L.

Jim Leonhard is beginning his 8th season in the NFL. Before beginning his professional career, he was a walk-on at Wisconsin.

Tyler also walked-on at Madison, hoping to follow a similar path.

“I really wanted to give it a shot there,” Tyler said. “It was really fun. I met a lot of great players.”

Tyler redshirted his freshman season, then left the Wisconsin program.

“I had some issues back home,” he said. “A lot of mental things that I thought were a really big deal then, which thinking back on it now, probably wasn’t that big of a deal. But I needed to take a break, get my head straight. And then got that itch to come play again.”

Tyler left Madison altogether after his sophomore year, mainly to get closer to home. He emailed Head Coach Joel Dettwiler and enrolled at UW-L.

“Obviously his brother is at a very high level and is able to make money, and that’s something not many people get to do,” Dettwiler said. “But if he’s able to come out here and get a degree from La Crosse and have some success and have some great friends, to me that’s just about as good.”

Tyler’s no longer following in his brother’s footsteps per se, but his brother’s success sticks with him. When there are fans at Roger Herring Stadium in a few weeks for the season opener, they’ll see the name ‘Leonhard’ on the back of his jersey.

“I think they just think, you better make some plays out there,” Tyler joked.

The Eagles open the season September 7th at home against Dubuque.