Who is Shaquille Leonard? Why Colts' Darius Leonard is going by a new name in 2022

Who is Shaquille Leonard? Why Colts' Darius Leonard is going by a new name in 2022

Darius Leonard was drafted into the NFL in 2018 and spent the first four years of his career going by his first name.

But as the 2022 NFL season arrives, he is changing things up.

Leonard told reporters at the beginning of Colts training camp that he preferred to be called Shaquille Leonard moving forward.

Why? As Nate Atkins of The Indy Star reports, Leonard’s middle name is Shaquille, and that’s what his family has referred to him as since he was young.

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So, if going by Shaquille was a long-term thing for Leonard, why didn’t he make his preference known until his fifth year in the league?

“He never wanted to say anything about it until just now,” Atkins wrote on Twitter.

Leonard himself added he’d like to be called Shaquille as it’s been what he’s gone by since 1995, but he won’t take offense if people call him Darius.

NFL Players to go by their middle names 

Leonard now will become one of the many NFL players that are known primarily by their middle names. Below are some of the most notable examples:

Preferred nameFull name
Chris GodwinRod Christopher Godwin
Dak PrescottRayne Dakota Prescott
Deshaun WatsonDerrick Deshaun Watson
Drew LockPaul Andrew Lock
Mecole HardmanCarey Mecole Hardman
Raheem MostertDominique Raheem Mostert
Matthew StaffordJohn Matthew Stafford

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Regardless of what name Leonard goes by, he will continue to be one of the most important players on the Colts’ defense. He has been named an All-Pro in three of his four seasons to date and has averaged 158 tackles, four sacks, five force fumbles, three interceptions and nine pass defenses per 17 games played during his career.

So, the Colts won’t care if he goes by Darius, Shaquille, Shaq or his nickname Maniac; they will just want to get him back on the field as soon as possible. He began training camp on the PUP list as he recovers from offseason back surgery.