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Loyal Cougars

Jordan Leslie explains his path to BYU, ‘pressure to be successful’

Jordan Leslie scores a touchdown against Colorado State. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jordan Leslie scores a touchdown against Colorado State. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Leslie tells Loyal Cougars he wants his talents to have an impact, which was key in deciding to transfer to BYU.

Among the exciting targets of BYU’s 2014 recruiting class, a player that surfaced late as being on BYU’s radar was UTEP receiver Jordan Leslie. The 6-foot-3 receiver from Houston is graduating this Spring with a degree in electrical engineering and signed with the Cougars on Signing Day.

In 2011, Leslie became the first Miner freshman in eight seasons to post a game with 100+ receiving yards. In his junior season he saw more success, catching 51 passes for 973 yards and six touchdowns, enough to be named to the 2013 Biletnikoff watch list, the award given to the nation’s best receiver.

Then, nine-year UTEP head coach Mike Price decided to step down and end his coaching career. Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach and Miner alum Sean Kugler was named as his replacement, and in 2013, Leslie’s production dropped by 360 yards.

“The coaching staff came in with a run first mentality, ” Leslie told Loyal Cougars on Monday night. “We were dedicated to getting the run game started before the pass game.” With graduation coming, Leslie began seeking an opportunity to use his talents more fully with a final-year transfer.

“After I received my release I worked on gathering my options. I knew I wanted to go somewhere receivers were needed, a coaching staff I could get along with and a team that had a great chance to be successful … The offensive system was the biggest factor.”

Still, the decision to leave UTEP was not easy. “I had developed such a bond with the players and the people of the community,” Leslie said. “With the direction the offense was going I felt like I needed to move to an offense where I could be utilized more. I greatly respect the coaching staff and especially Coach Kugler, but sometimes you have to make decisions that you feel will be the best for yourself.”

Staff changes both in El Paso and in Provo allowed BYU to pursue UTEP’s fifth-year receivers coach Guy Holliday, who not only has been a passionate addition to the Cougars’ coaching and recruiting efforts, but made a move to BYU a natural one for Leslie.

“I had the chance to be coached by Coach Holliday for three years, and I owe a lot of my success to him,” Leslie explained. “He taught me fundamentals and discipline that allowed me to be successful on and off the field. Being with a coach for that long, you learn to really appreciate and respect him. I trust coach a lot, and I know he always has my best interest in mind.”

Leslie said that BYU became his plan, but his trip to campus on Jan. 31 made his decision sure. “I was blown away by the campus, the facilities and the people there. The players I was able to meet were great guys with great morals. I could tell they were all dedicated to do whatever it would take to win next year.”

Aside from his trust in Coach Holliday, Leslie said other factors that made BYU an appealing destination were the Cougars offensive system, great coaches, nine-straight bowl appearances, and a good combination of returning talent and opportunities to make an immediate impact.

“I hope to be a big playmaker for the offense and be that guy players see as a leader,” said Leslie, who will enroll in the Marriott School’s Executive MPA program. “I know I have a lot of pressure to come in and be successful wherever [coaches] put me … I have the speed to run past most defenders, but also have the ability to run great routes. I am very physical and find ways to get open. If the ball is in the air, I feel like it’s my job to bring it down and make a play.”

While BYU’s facilities were impressive, it was the people around BYU football that really impacted Leslie. “I really enjoyed meeting the coaches. They are a great group of men that truly care about their players. I already feel comfortable talking to all of them, and I’m really excited to get to know each one of them on a more personal level.

“But one thing that impressed me the most was the fans. I was able to see the video that won the Hyundai challenge, and it really hit me deep[ly] seeing the passion and love the fans had for BYU football. I just want the fans to know how excited I am to come to Provo. I can’t wait to step out on that field in front of all the fans and make them proud.”

8 Comments

  1. Jason Gene Ho-Ching

    February 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

    This guy is top notch. Getting inan electrical engineering degree in 3 years? that takes an insane amount of dedication and hard work. Not to mention good deal of intelligence. He will be a great fit at BYU. We got a good one!

    • Eltreo

      February 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Right on Jason! This is a kid with a mission. I’m always impressed with the scholarship opportunities of the students who see the vision of what can be. Since most kids get 5 to play 4, they have a chance to get their BA and even get started on a post graduate degree still on a scholarship. But as you accurately point out it takes an enormous amount of dedication. It also says a ton about work ethic. It’s the one thing in college that is sad. Kids are there sometimes for 5 or 6 years on scholarship and don’t graduate. Jordan is one who did it exactly right. I for one would love to watch Jordan get a thousand yards next season.

  2. natedog1

    February 11, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Welcome to BYU. What a great kid. What a smart kid. What a hard worker. What an accomplishment to graduate with an engineering degree and be accepeted to the Marriot School MBA program. WOW! Last year I thought that 2J and Holliday were our best hires. Both of those position groups didn’t excell last yr., but with time and the right personel, I am optimistic. Coach Holliday has placed his stamp of influence on recruiting philosophy and ability at the Y. This is a great example of why coach Holliday is a fantastic piece in this coaching staff.

    • The Franchise

      February 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Note – Public, not Business Administration. Toby Christensen was in the MPA program for his last playing year as well.

  3. southerncougar

    February 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Electrical and Chemical Engineering are two of the toughest degrees at any school. Since he graduated with an engineering degree in just three years, this kid is not only smart but brilliant. Take it from an engineer, that is one tough degree no matter what school you graduate from. Welcome to BYU and I hope it serves you well.

  4. Paul

    February 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Excited for you to come!

  5. CougarBlue (@Cougarblue)

    February 15, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Amen to all, gee if Jordan could stay at BYU and get his graduate degrees while acting as a grad assistant, he would be such a tremendous role model for the kids he would be working with. This young man is the type of great athlete who is first a great student destroying the commonly held belief that you have to be one or the other. I’m really loving the addition of coach Holiday.

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