As Patriots coach Mike Locke puts it, the senior fullback is the kind of player you can build a great program around.
Listed at 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, he's not the biggest or fastest player on the Patriots team, but he may be the most dedicated.
"He's one of those kids who arrives early, stays late and is always looking at what he can do to improve," Locke said. "He's the kind you can build a great program around. Tanner has been a four-year player, and he has gone through the school of hard knocks. He has run the ball well for us at times. He got a little banged up during last season but kept battling. On defense, he's going to give you everything he's got."
Leffew plays the game with passion and that extends from the football field to the baseball diamond, where he was a third baseman and pitcher for the Patriots in the spring.
Sullivan East baseball coach Mike Breuninger calls him a real spark plug who not only comes to each practice but seems to enjoy practice more than most.
Don't get it wrong, Leffew loves the games as well. There’s nothing like those moments of glory like throwing the big strikeout or getting away from a defender on the football field.
"It's always fun when you break a big run down the sideline or get the crowd pumped up," he said. "But it comes down to doing everything you can to help your team win."
That's what separates him from many. It is about helping the team and as much as he loves to carry the ball, he likes to to pave the way for others from the fullback position.
"I like that you can be real aggressive, especially on the kick-out blocks," he said. "It's a position that few people take pride in anymore, but I like to do the best I can."
As a runner, Locke describes him as surprisingly shifty with a good jump cut and low center of gravity.
He's also valuable as a linebacker, whether playing in the middle or outside. He commented that playing defense helps him focus on keeping a strong attitude. When he's not playing sports competitively, he enjoys going to the water to fish and swim. His prize catch is a six-pound largemouth bass reeled in at Boone Lake.
Now, he looks to help the Patriots reel in more wins — and the coaches like the attitude he brings.
"He's a good teammate who gets along with all the guys." Breuninger said.
Locke added, "He's very coachable and that's a valuable skill. On defense, he's good at reading and trusting his keys. He's probably the most improved player on the team in those areas."