BY Mike Loftus
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
Weymouth native Gordon McLeod, a product of BC High's football program, was selected by his Stonehill teammates as a co-captain for the coming season. He's ready to play a larger role on the field, if that's what the Skyhawks need.
EASTON – He's not the biggest guy on the field, nor is he the strongest or the fastest.
Gordon McLeod is just the perfect guy to be one of Stonehill College's 2015 football captains.
"You hope," said Robert Talley, the Skyhawks' head coach, who has returning players select two captains at the conclusion of spring practices. "You think 'I can see this guy being a captain,' and you hope the team sees it the same way."
Talley's hopes were realized when McLeod, a senior from Weymouth and a product of BC High's program, was tabbed by his Skyhaws teammates as one of two co-captains. McLeod, a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder creeping up Stonehill's career receiving lists, was happy and humbled.
"It was a great honor to know the guys look at me as a leader," he said.
"I'm not that big of a talker, but I do try to show by my actions how things should be done. It's good to know that the guys are seeing that – the things I do on and off the field."
McLeod toted those traits to Stonehill from BC High, where he was a two-time captain who helped head coach Jon Bartlett's Eagles win the 2011 Eastern Mass. Div. 1 championship. Although twice an All-Catholic Conference selection, McLeod didn't go to Stonehill to win awards, but to help the Skyhawks win games.
"Coach Bartlett really stressed team chemistry," McLeod said. "I've taken a lot of what I learned at BC High here, and added the things Coach Talley says. Coach Talley also says a lot about team chemistry, about everyone becoming one group."
For McLeod, that has meant plenty of playing time – he has played in all 32 of Stonehill's games over the last three years, starting all 22 over the last two – but rarely playing a featured role. That was reserved mostly for Nate Robitaille, the only receiver in program history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a season, which the Attleboro product did twice.
"We've been really fortunate to have some really good receivers over the past few years – guys who were game-breakers, who could change the game with one play," Talley said. "Gordon's not necessarily that type, but he's not a possession receiver, either. If he was a main-target receiver, he would have had a lot more catches by now. It's just the way it's worked out so far."
With Robitaille gone and sophomore Matt Foltz appearing ready to build on three starts at the end of last season, things may work out differently in 2015.
"I expect (McLeod) to play a lot bigger role than he has in the past," Talley said. "He's ready to step up."
McLeod prides himself on always being ready to do what's needed. If it means catching more passes (his 97 career receptions rank seventh in program history), great. If it means catching fewer, that's great, too – so long as the Skyhawks improve on last year's records of 4-5 in the Northeast 10, and 5-6 overall.
"That's always in the back of your mind – what you can do for yourself," McLeod said. "But going into this year, I'm thinking about what more I can do for the team rather than for myself.
"If I have to make more catches, more plays, that's what's going to happen – but for the team, not for me."
McLeod has worked extensively with Foltz to establish the chemistry they'll want to have when the season opens with a Sept. 5 non-conference road date against Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) University.
"He and I were talking all winter, trying to throw a couple times a week," McLeod said. "We had the practices together in the spring. Right now, we're trying to spend an extra few minutes before or after practice, trying to work on things we didn't connect on.
"The chemistry is building. It takes some time to build it with your quarterback, but I think it's coming along well."
That extra effort doesn't surprise Talley, who calls McLeod "one of those guys who's the hardest workers on the team. He's going to outwork you."
Enviable consistency throughout his career – 32 catches as a freshman, 35 as a sophomore, 30 last season – has made McLeod one of the more productive receivers in Stonehill history. He's certain to climb the ladder in categories such as receptions, receiving yardage (1,350; sixth) and career TD grabs (10; eighth). The heights he reaches will depend on what the team needs.
"Some people may remember an individual person, but they're going to remember a championship team more than one person," McLeod said. "As long as we get a 'W' at the end of the day, that's the only thing I care about."