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Offseason | 2023

LVE Wins Back-to-Back Reliant HR Derby Title


FRISCO, Texas — If the next baseball movie in Hollywood is looking for someone to star as a lean, mean, home run hitting machine - it might be worth their time to give Cowboys' linebacker Leighton Vander Esch a call to be their lead man.

All kidding aside, you likely won't see Vander Esch starring in a remake of _The Natural _anytime soon, but he did his best impression at the 10th Annual Reliant Home Run Derby on Wednesday night at Riders Park in Frisco by smashing 10 homers and raising $17,000 for charity by himself.

In total, the Cowboys raised over $86,000 collectively with the five-year veteran Vander Esch leading the charge for the second consecutive season after winning the event a year ago. Of course, Vander Esch re-signed with Dallas over the offseason on a one-year deal during free agency, though he returns as the elder statesman in the linebacker room this upcoming season.

With Damone Clark coming off an inspiring and impressive rookie year, alongside the ultimate chess piece in Micah Parsons and newly minted Cowboy DeMarvion Overshown, the Cowboys look to be in strong shape in the middle of their defense with so many young faces occupying it.

Then there's the veteran in Vander Esch, who now steps into a mentor role quicker than he realized it might've happened as he enters just his age-27 season. 

"We're a young room and it feels weird," Vander Esch said. "I thought we were young last year. This year we're even younger. So, it's going to be fun. We still have a lot to learn and a long way to develop.

"It seems like just yesterday I was a rookie, too. So, it goes by fast, and I want them to realize just this year and these coming years for them are going to go by even faster. And they don't want to let this opportunity slip for them. So, they have to make the most of their opportunities when they present themselves and contribute in every single way they can."  

But even though the Cowboys slugginglinebacker serves as the captain of both the position group and the defense as whole, his level of excitement of what they're capable of has very boundaries. After all, players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Trevon Diggs, Jayron Kearse, and Stephon Gilmore are also a part of what was one of the best defenses in the NFL a year ago under Dan Quinn and now add even more talent in first-round pick Mazi Smith and Overshown.

In Vander Esch's eyes, the objective for the season is as clear as it was in his quest for his second derby title on Wednesday - don't miss your shot to win.

"We have another opportunity to do that this year and get even better and go for that trophy," Vander Esch said. "So that's our goal and there ain't going to be nothing short of it."

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