Senior safety David Leisring embodies what it means to be a Flyer football player, relentlessly focusing on his work both on and off the field in an attempt to reach newer heights. Now, entering his last year of eligibility, Leisring begins the season on the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list. IMPACT stands for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity, encompassing traits both on and off the field. He is one of 42 finalist, 11 of which are defensive backs and with him being the only Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) member.
A three-year starter, Leisring has seen great teammates such as Cameron Stubbs and Christian Searles make their way through the program, each of them creating their unique legacy, but for Leisring, his hunger to be great started before he even donned the Flyer red.
“We have a model of young men that we want to bring in that we feel that can be successful in our program and David is certainly one of those young men,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “From the moment we met him, we saw that he could be successful here because of his playing ability coming from St. Xavier, and also from what he was involved with at school and the leadership he showed.”
Coming from St. Xavier High School, a school located in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, Leisring was a football team MVP, named to the All-Conference team, a three-time letterman for lacrosse and a member of the National Honors Society. His skillset and success in the classroom and on the field made him a perfect fit in the eyes of the coaching staff. However, what the coaches didn’t know was just how fast he would make an impact on the team.
Leisring appeared in 10 games his freshman year, playing both on defense and special teams. Although he only tallied six tackles and one interception over the entire season, his impact was made off-the-field with the team and the coaches, impressing them both with his hunger to learn the game.
“He could pick up on things real early on in the film room, things the older guys wouldn’t catch,” defensive coordinator Landon Fox said. “So, he earned a lot of respect from his teammates early on, and those younger and older guys would look up to him and recognize that it was really good and that they needed to do it to put themselves in a similar position to make plays.”
His study in the film room then transferred over to the practice field and games, as he was able to communicate seamlessly and effectively with his teammates, getting the most out of every rep.
“Playing with a player like David, all it does is make your job a lot easier, because David is going to do everything he needs to do to be in the best position,” senior cornerback Jason Balogh said. “David is going to tell me before the snap everything I need to know, he’s going to alert me for things that might happen, that way I’m already thinking about what’s going on.”
Communication is essential not only for any defensive player, but especially for safety, a position that is the last line of defense against the opposing team. The problem that the Fox and the defense runs into from time-to-time is that Leisring is really good at communication… almost too good.
“Sometimes we have to tell him to keep it simple because his teammates aren’t where he’s at,” Fox said. “So, he has to be able to understand that and to not overcomplicate the game, since he understands the game on a different level.”
Even with that factoring in, Fox credits his calmness and poise at the safety position for essential in aiding with communication towards the entire team and getting everybody lined up and on the same page before the snap of the ball.
And once the ball is snapped, Leisring’s level of confidence and leadership eases the minds of his teammates, as they can focus on what they need to do and not have to worry about what Leisring is doing.
“I don’t worry about him not being in the right position or something, it’s David. We have that full trust in him that he’s going to be doing what he’s supposed to be doing,” Balogh said. “So, it allows you to focus on yourself and on what you’re doing for each play, and that’s when our defense really clicks and is most successful is when every person is doing their own job.”
And that level of communication and then confidence shows on the defensive side, as Leisring has tallied 11 interceptions over the past four years and led the team in total tackles last year, despite missing one game.
While being a humble person in his own right, Leisring credits his leadership traits and skills to the people around him, teammates that influenced him both during his high school and college years.
“I used some of the things I saw in high school from my friends,” Leisring said. “A lot of my friends were those leadership guys that you look for, and now they’re playing for some really big programs. So, I kind of took what they laid out for me in high school and expanded on it in college, and I think I’ve continued to build on that leadership.”
Now, as a reader, you might be confused as to why he wasn’t named a captain for the 2018 season, but that falls on an ACL injury he suffered late last season, forcing him out of the entire spring season and summer. Fox notes that it was a disappointment for Leisring, as he felt that it was going to be hard to be a captain when he wasn’t there going through the workouts with his team on a daily basis. And with ACL recoveries being a long and lonely process, going through rehab and treatment by yourself away from your teammates, it’s easy for one to get discouraged and lose sight of the end goal. However, Leisring’s mindset did not change, in fact, it grew.
“Physically, his consistent approach to go daily to rehab and to treatment was… unbelievable,” Fox said. “He was able to stay ahead of the game until he came here in the end of July and did his test for knee strength and had his surgical knee be stronger than his non-surgical knee. So, his approach towards rehab and treatment was just accredit to who he is as a person.”
And if all that doesn’t attest enough to who Leisring is as a football player, leader and overall human being, he also currently holds a 3.75 cumulative GPA as a finance major and sits as the current vice president for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which he has been a member of all four years. He also has experience with the Dayton Buddy Walk for the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk in downtown Dayton, rounding out his experience as a student-athlete and overall member of the Dayton community.
At the end of the day, Leisring’s mindset for himself and this team is simple, he’s just out there trying to prove something to the rest of the teams and people out there.
“I’m trying to prove that this team is a power house, a continual power house,” Leisring said. “I’m just trying to get back to what this program is all about, doing the right thing and executing well. That’s what I love about football too, it’s my style of football, just trying to prove that we can take this into the FCS playoffs and do something special here.”
Cover photo courtesy of Erik Schelkun, Elsestar Images. Body photos courtesy of Griffin Quinn, Social Media Director.