Wodonga Raiders have signed towering young midfielder Brandon Leonard.
Leonard, 20, arrives at Birallee Park after playing for Eastern Ranges in the Talent League before joining North Ringwood in the Eastern Football League.
Wodonga Raiders coach Marc Almond revealed that Leonard opted to have this season off but had the talent to have an instant impact in the Ovens and Murray.
"Brandon was a talented teenager who played for Eastern Ranges before having a stint with North Ringwood in the Eastern Football League, so he has played at a relatively high standard," Almond said.
"So he has got a lot of talent and by all reports there was a bit of interest in Brandon from AFL talent scouts in his last year with the Ranges.
"He had a year off this season after moving to Wodonga and not playing at all this year.
"But we feel that Brandon will prove to be more than a handy addition."
In a rare occurrence, Almond said the Raiders were able to sign Leonard after he initiated contact with the club.
"It's a bit hard to believe but Brandon contacted us first about joining the club," he said.
"He reached out to us and explained that he had moved to town and had been following the O&M from afar and particularly Raiders.
"He told me that he likes the way the club is building a young group and wants to be a part of it.
"So I guess it's a bit of a bonus how it's all unfolded and we are stoked to land another young player who wants to be part of the club's rebuild."
At 193cm and 100kg, Leonard has the physical attributes to provide some genuine X-factor in the Raiders' midfield.
Almond said Leonard will need to work on his aerobic capacity to help adapt to playing on the wide expanses of most O&M grounds in contrast to the smaller grounds he has become accustomed to in the EFL.
"We feel Brandon will need to work on his aerobic capacity because he is used to playing on those smaller grounds that you get in Melbourne," he said.
"But if he can improve his fitness levels he could prove hard to combat being 190cm plus and 100kg and having a big bodied midfielder that can hit the scoreboard is always pleasing.
"More importantly, after meeting with Brandon and his father, they are really good people who will not only add to what we are trying to achieve on the field.
"But help build that environment that we want off the field as well."
Leonard joins prized recruit Sam Darley, alongside Zak Sartore, Lochie Simpson, Jaxon and Blake Ryan Jackson Casey and Brock Murray as new additions at Birallee Park over the off-season so far.
Alex Daly who has joined Kiewa-Sandy Creek is the most notable departure.
Almond said the expected increased competitiveness for spots in the senior side next year will help raise the bar in regards to improvement.
"The recruits we have brought in will add further depth to our list and add competitiveness for spots," Almond said.
"That was the key for us, without pulling punches we had too many guys last year who would turn up, drop their bags in the changerooms and play senior footy.
"So we needed to change that and we have changed that with some kids coming through who have really hit the ground running before even pre-season started.
"So there is a real desire amongst the group to get better and improve.
"I had a fairly honest conversation with the playing group at the end of the year and it was really sink or swim time for a lot of us at the club in terms of commitment.
"The question was asked: what is the level of commitment and sacrifice players are willing to give?
"I take my hat off to the group, already there are some guys that have really knuckled down who are now ahead of some guys who are not prepared to do the work.
"The guys we have added are young, athletic and can play multiple positions and the list is still a long way off where it needs to be.
"But it's about improving the list over a two to three year period as much as we can."