The Journey Begins
Rodney McLeod Jr. was born on June 23rd, 1990 in Clinton, Maryland. He would later attend high school at DeMatha, a four-year catholic school for men located in Hyattsville, Maryland. There, McLeod would receive an education with a low teacher to student ratio and an established #2 ranked athletic program by Sports Illustrated back in 2005 and 2007 .
Several notable alumni from DeMatha have played sports professionally, such as former Philadelphia Eagle Brian Westbrook and current Miami Dolphin Cameron Wake. Even NBA shooting guard Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic graduated from DeMatha.
In short, Rodney McLeod was given a great opportunity to showcase his skills as a cornerback and wide receiver in DeMatha’s football program. McLeod contributed to his team’s league championship streak (from 2003-2008) at those two positions until he graduated after the 2007-2008 football season.
McLeod then attended the University of Virginia in 2008, where he would study sociology and play football for the Cavaliers. It didn’t take him long to make an impact with the team as a nickel cornerback and special teamer, receiving the Bill Dudley Award “as the team’s most outstanding first-year [football] player for the 2008 season” . In nine games as a true freshman, he compiled 17 total tackles and registered a sack.
“We have 650 athletes here [at the University of Virginia], and you wish all 650 had Rodney’s personality.”
– Mike Moraghan, Cavalier Sports Weekly
Then, when Mike London was hired as the head coach of the program in 2010, the defense changed from a 3-4 to a 4-3, forcing McLeod to become the starting strong safety. There, he excelled as the bright, enthusiastic team captain of the squad.
McLeod’s proudest moment with the Virginia Cavaliers occurred during his senior season; the season he was named All-ACC Honorable Mention. Even though he had always been a playmaker, McLeod displayed such abilities in a breakout game where he recorded three interceptions in an 18 minute span.
Despite never playing a full season with the Cavaliers due to injuries, Rodney McLeod ended his collegiate football career in the ACC with 190 total tackles (including 10 tackles for loss), 6 interceptions, 2 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles.