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Matt Leo talks unique path to American football, familiarity with the Eagles’ system

Leo becomes the third Australian player on the roster.

The Eagles signed Matt Leo out of Iowa State through the NFL’s International Pathway Program. He’s currently still in Iowa, and mowing his neighbors lawns in the meantime.

Leo becomes the third player from Australia to join Philly’s roster — joining Cameron Johnston and Jordan Mailata. Both Aussie’s have reached out to welcome their new teammate, and Mailata was the first person to FaceTime with Leo after news broke.

Leo is living out a dream of his that started when he was working through a plumber apprenticeship in Australia.

“It’s an incredible opportunity.”

He was in his first year as an apprentice and every few months they would have to go to a trade school for classes. Leo was in the lunch room one day and the San Francisco 49ers were playing the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.

“I was eating my lunch thinking if only i had grown up in the US, I could have had an opportunity to play this sport.”

But it wasn’t until 3 years into his apprenticeship and he was working on a project. He explained that it was about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and he was crawling through a little passage thinking, “Man, I’m too big to be doing this. I miss sports, and I should be playing sports, still”.

That’s when he heard about a punter from Australia who earned a partial scholarship to play football, and he started looking into it.

On his interest in football

Leo kept talking about football being special and something he would watch in movies and on TV. He cited the incredible brotherhood depicted in movies, the energy of the game and the physicality. He would see offensive lineman and defensive ends hitting each other and tight ends making big, one-handed catches.

Specifically, he was into the ‘Friday Night Lights’ series growing up, and it was an incredible thing to be able to go through some of the same experiences once he moved to the United States.

He played at the JUCO level in Arizona and then Division 1 ball at Iowa State. Leo talked about the different experiences and how they helped him develop into a more well-rounded player.

On Eagles fans and system

Leo said that he’s proud to be a part of the Philly fanbase, and it’s that die hard, loyal fanbase that he’s excited to play for. He is used to that kind of passion from his time playing at Iowa State and their crowds.

He talked a little bit about how he’s familiar with the defensive system, and how the attack defense the Eagles use was common in the Big 12, especially at Iowa State. But, Leo is excited to run a different system as well and learn all aspects of the game.

“I’m just pumped to get my head in that playbook and try to earn that spot.”

Leo said that it’s tough to put dates on anything at the moment, but the Eagles and his position coach informed him about dates and times they are planning to get together as a team. Until then, he’s happy to participate in the Zoom meetings with his position group.

He’s looking forward to attacking the opportunity with everything he has. Leo understands what it’s going to take to earn a spot on the team and earn practice reps.

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