Former Badgers, NFL safety Leonhard named Wisconsin secondary coach

Wisconsin has once again turned to one of its former players to fill out its coaching staff.

Jim Leonhard, who starred as a safety with the Badgers from 2001-04 before embarking on a 10-year NFL career, was named the Badgers' new secondary coach. Wisconsin had the position to fill after Daronte Jones left the program for a position with the Miami Dolphins.

This will be the first coaching job for Leonard, who was elected to the school's athletic Hall of Fame this past summer. But he'll be another familiar face, joining several ex-Badgers in Wisconsin's coaching ranks, including head coach Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and tight ends coach Mickey Turner.

"I'm very appreciative to have Jim join our coaching staff," Chryst said in a release. "I'm excited for our players and coaches to be able to work with him and learn from him. What makes Jim special is his desire to teach, to help young men grow and to develop them to reach their full potential. He has a tremendous love and appreciation for the University of Wisconsin and our football program.

"Jim has always been a part of our Wisconsin family and I'm looking forward to him impacting this program in a new role."

The undersized (5-foot-8) Leonhard walked-on to Wisconsin and became a three-time first-team All-American. He matched UW's school record with 21 career interceptions, the fourth-most in Big Ten history, and finished with 50 passes defended -- 25 of which came during his breakout sophomore season in 2002. His nation-leading 11 interceptions that year tied the Big Ten's single-season record.

Leonhard also broke the Badgers' single-season punt return yardage record twice and finished his career as the Big Ten's all-time leader in punt return yards, with 1,347.

Undrafted, Leonhard played in the NFL for 10 seasons with the Bills, Ravens, Saints, Jets, Broncos and Browns. He retired followig the 2014 season having recorded 427 tackles and 14 interceptions.

In a Q&A with in August, Leonhard indicated he wanted to stay in football in some fashion, with coaching a possibility. Sixth months later, he has his first coaching job for his alma mater.