UTEP Football Will Survive Without Jordan Leslie
Over the weekend, senior-to-be wide receiver Jordan Leslie announced that he will leave UTEP after the Spring semester and will transfer to another Division 1 program. Although Leslie did not reveal his choice at press time, many believe he will play for BYU and former UTEP receivers coach Guy Holliday. Leslie is majoring in engineering and he will graduate from UTEP in May. That will allow him to transfer to any Division 1 program without having to sit out one year. Leslie’s situation is similar to Miners’ quarterback Jameill Showers, who left Texas A&M after graduating last summer in order to transfer to UTEP and was eligible to play immediately last season. Regardless of his reasons for leaving, Leslie was a very productive player for the Miners during his first three seasons with the team. His departure from the team will be a blow to an offense returning eight starters from the end of last season. Despite some dropped passes early in the season, Leslie was a reliable target for Showers. Without him, the battle for his starting spot in the Miners offense will be a key storyline, starting with spring practice.
I heard from more than a few UTEP fans who were upset with head coach Sean Kugler for losing Leslie to another program. What he is supposed to do if a player wants to play elsewhere? Kugler can make the best sales pitch for Leslie to stay in El Paso and finish his college career as a Miner, but the final decision belongs to the player and not the coach. When Kugler arrived in El Paso more than a year ago from the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, he promised a more disciplined style of football. The changes he made were drastic, and some players were not ready for his strict, no-nonsense approach. If the Miners will have any chance to turn their football program into a perennial bowl contender, they need to have every player to be 100% behind Kugler and the coaching staff. If Leslie does not fit this description, it is best for him to leave the program and finish his collegiate career elsewhere. Jordan Leslie was always a class act whenever I had the chance to interview him over the years, and I wish him nothing but the best of luck.