INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (WBTW) — The Indianapolis Colts waived Dillon County native Shaquille Leonard on Tuesday.
Leonard, a 2013 graduate of Lake View High School, played for South Carolina State University before being drafted to the Colts in 2018. He was named the MEAC defensive player of the year in 2016 and 2017, received a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2018 and 2020 and was a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2019.
Since turning pro, Leonard has sponsored football camps and other events in the Pee Dee, including a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway last Thursday in Lake View.
“For people to come out for Thanksgiving and have to worry about, you know, finding something to eat or finding a turkey, now they’ve got it and they can spend time with their loved ones and not have to stress about finding some food,” Leonard said. “I’m extremely happy to be able to do this. I’m very fortunate, just always try to give back anyway I possibly can.”
Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay said in a news release the Colts will always remember his energy on the field.
“Off the field, he’s a servant leader and assisted numerous families in both his hometown and the Indianapolis community,” Irsay said. “We’re thankful for Shaq and the contributions he made to our organization. We wish him and his beautiful family the best moving forward.”
Leonard is a three-time first-team AP All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler, and 2018 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Leonard underwent two surgeries in 2022 to address a nerve issue and only appeared in three games last season, according to the release.
He returned in 2023 and started nine of the Colts’ 10 games but was limited to primarily playing on first and second downs, the release said. Leonard was on the field for just under 70% of the Colts’ defensive snaps. Before his surgeries, Leonard played over 95% of the Colts’ defensive snaps.
He set a Colts record with 163 tackles in 2018 and added two interceptions, four forced fumbles, 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. Leonard had five interceptions in 2019 and led the NFL with eight forced fumbles in 2021, the release said.
Over nine games in 2023, Leonard totaled 65 tackles and two tackles for a loss, according to the release.
Head coach Shane Steichen said he is thankful for the energy Leonard brought to the team on a daily basis.
“He’s a competitor, a leader, and is respected among his teammates,” Steichen said. “I wish him all the best.”
Leonard was also the Colts’ 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year and Ed Block Courage Award nominee, according to the release.
After being released, Leonard said on X, formerly Twitter:
“Indy, I want to thank you for accepting me and my family with open arms. These past six years have been incredible. Through the good times and bad, y’all stood by my side. I apologize for not bringing that trophy back to the 317. The energy in Lucas Oil has been nothing but amazing and I thank you for every memory. I’m thankful to play for such an amazing fan base. I love you guys and wish the Colts nothing but the best! Maniac out.”
Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.