Wisconsin Sports Network and WisSports.net are proud to announce Kimberly's Bret Verstegen as the 2014 recipient of the Jim Leonhard Award as the most outstanding senior defensive back in Wisconsin, part of the WSN Senior Football Awards.
Verstegen showed his versatility this season by moving to safety after spending last year as a First Team All-Conference cornerback. He was even better as a senior, earning not only First Team All-Conference, but VFA-North Defensive Back of the Year honors.
"Bret is a defensive back that can cover the opponent's best receiver one-on-one, he covers a lot ground quickly from the safety position while the ball is in the air, and he fills the alleys and tackles extremely well in the run game," said head coach Steve Jones.
He has 36 tackles and 7 interceptions through 13 games, with a pair of INT's each of the last three playoff games. He's added 5 receiving touchdowns and a punt return score this season as well.
Verstegen, the son of former Badgers and NFL offensive lineman Mike Verstegen, was recently named a WFCA First Team All-State choice.
Finalists for the award were Verstegen, Jacob DeMille of De Pere, Jared Dittmer of Oshkosh North, Cody Kujawa of Waukesha West, and Elijah Strong of Oak Creek.
Past winners of the award include Marquette's Michael Trotter (2009), Appleton North's Joe Makeever (2010), Edgar's Kyle Schueller (2011), Whitefish Bay's Jackson Weber (2012), and Appleton North's Connor Rolain (2013).
The award is named after Jim Leonhard, one of the most beloved players from the state of Wisconsin. Hailing from tiny Tony, Wisconsin and attending Flambeau High School, Leonhard was a two-time All-State selection. He walked-on at the University of Wisconsin, and quickly established himself as a leader and outstanding player. He started 39 games in his career, and his 21 career interceptions are tied for the most in Badger history and fourth in the Big Ten. He also broke the Big Ten punt return yardage record. Leonhard went undrafted, but hooked on with the Buffalo Bills before moving to the Baltimore Ravens. In 2009 he signed with the New York Jets and is now with the Cleveland Browns.
The voting panel for the WSN Senior Football Awards consisted of: Travis Wilson, WSN Content Manager and Head Football Writer; Norbert Durst, WSN Content Producer; Dennis Semrau, Wisconsin State Journal; Justin Hull, WSCO The Score 95.3 in Appleton; JR Radcliffe, NOW Newspapers; Dan Barwick, WSN Contributor; Jimmie Kaska, iHeartMedia Eau Claire; Fan Vote