The Colossus of Coral Reef: Florida DE Julian Leslie
Posted August 15, 2011 3:19 am
Photo Courtesy of FCAA
Finestpreps.com will begin to turn it up a notch with the high school football coverage with the season beginning. Recently we had Dan Picca from FCAA contribute an article about a future phenom from the notorious 757 region. Picca decided to bring a friend along this time, Finestpreps.com would to like to give Matt Clancy of FCAA a warm welcome as he introduces us to a DE from the state of Florida that understands the blueprint to success.
Athletics and academics. In many people’s minds the two do not often go hand in hand. But, for Julian Leslie, an aspiring doctor, succeeding in both is a value that has been instilled in him since birth.
Leslie stars for Coral Reef Senior High School, which is ranked as one of the top 100 public high schools in the nation by US News Education. At 6’ 4’’ and 220 lbs, Leslie is a natural athlete, but it is his exceptional work ethic that allows him to truly dominate on the field.
Despite working hard to maintain good grades in one of the most competitive high schools in the country, Leslie manages to find time to continue to improve as a football player. His father, Jerome Leslie, said that, in addition to school practices and workouts, Julian spends 15 to 18 hours in the gym a week. And, says Jerome, if Julian had his way he would be hitting the weights even more.
“I had to make him stop,” Jerome Leslie said. “I told him you have to rest son.”
Leslie’s competitive drive is a strong influence on his teammates. His desire to win, and bring Coral Reef their first state championship, drives his obsessive work ethic, and he expects his teammates to follow his example. Whenever he is going to the gym he brings his teammates with him because he can get them in under his membership.
“He’s not a ‘ra ra’ kid, but he is very aggressive,” Jerome Leslie said. “He’s not the type running around bumping heads and cursing, he lets his actions speak. He is the type that leads by example.”
Teammate Trashaun Ward echoed this sentiment.
“Julian is hard working and he’s always there for advice when you need him,” Ward said.
Leslie is a team first player with an unparalleled drive to win. He is a main part of the recent transformation of Coral Reef’s football program into a state championship contender. Coral Reef, a magnate school for gifted students, has traditionally struggled athletically. On the football field, that is all changing. In Leslie’s junior year, the football team finished with a winning record for the first time in school history. This season, with a senior laden roster, Leslie thinks that they have a shot at winning the title.
“It was great, we’ve been working hard the last three years to show 6A football that we’re a team to beat,” Leslie said of the team’s turnaround. “[A state championship] means everything to me. That’s what I’m pushing for this season. If we come short of that then I won’t feel like we had a successful season.”
For Leslie, the team’s success is more important than individual statistics. After starting at defensive end his sophomore year, in which he recorded 40 tackles and 2 sacks, his coach asked him to move primarily to tight end his junior season and be a blocker in a ground based attack. Rather than complain as some athletes would do, Leslie became a dominant blocker, often pushing his opponent several yards off the line at the snap of the ball.
Leslie’s unselfishness extends to life off the field as well. He is a family man who is active in his community. Last Thanksgiving, Leslie helped distribute turkeys to underprivileged families. As part of a medical arts program at Coral Reef he does community service every semester. On a recent Saturday evening, while most high school students are out with their friends, or at a party, Leslie spent three hours at his uncle’s house. When he left at 11pm he went to the gym.
Leslie is the type of person who sets goals for himself and works tirelessly to attain them. In addition to the hours he spends in the gym, Leslie has been working with strength and conditioning trainers to help him take his game to the next level. He has accepted a scholarship offer from Western Kentucky University and plans on continuing his football career with the Hilltoppersin the fall of 2012. However, Leslie is not going to college just as an athlete. He has already begun working on a professional goal as well, becoming an anesthesiologist. He is part of the renowned medical arts program at Coral Reef that includes a debate team that competed on the state level. He plans on pursuing both passions at Western Kentucky.
“Two years from now I see myself playing collegiate football and trying to get my degree,” Leslie, who plans to major in pre medicine, said.
Versatile, and multi-talented, are words that could describe Leslie both as a player and a person. Off the field, in addition to his studies and his work in the community, Leslie plays the saxophone. On the field, Leslie says that things come naturally to him and he picks stuff up very quickly. This ability has helped him master numerous positions. In addition to defensive end and tight end, Leslie can play receiver and punt.
“He never came off the field in the spring game,” Jerome Leslie said.
Leslie is the type of hard working, driven, leader on both the field and in the classroom that embodies the Future College Athlete Association. He sets goals for himself and works tirelessly to accomplish them. One of those goals he has already achieved; getting a college scholarship. Leslie has committed to play football for Western Kentucky. He will not begin his career with the Hilltoppers until the fall of 2012 but choose to commit now for several reasons. One was so that he could focus on his goal of winning a state title for Coral Reef. The other was that after visiting, he was impressed by almost every aspect of WKU.
“I bonded with the coaches. I’ve continued talking with the coaches every week and have a close relationship with my position coach,” Leslie said. “I like that they have an academic center for athletes. When I walked into the room people weren’t on facebook or anything like that. They are serious about making sure they keep their grades up.”
Leslie is excited to bring his competitive drive to the Western Kentucky and plans on helping the Hilltoppers reach the top of the Sunbelt standings.
“I foresee a lot of winning and a conference championship,” Leslie said.
Below is the Class of 2012 WKU commits highlight tape from his Junior year