MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Another week. Another national honor for this Mountaineer squad.
WVU defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley was honored on Monday as a nominee for the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding assistant football coach.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) November 15, 2021
Lesley is in his third season with the Mountaineers, but his experience coaching top defenses dates back to the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Champion Troy Trojans.
After his time as one of the team’s graduate assistants had concluded, Lesley moved on to a three-year stint at Kilgore College working as the linebackers coach. In 2010, he spent one-year increments working the defensive lines at Northwest Mississippi CC, Kilgore, and circled back to Northwest Mississippi CC in 2012. From there, his hunt for defensive football sent him down a continuation of community college coaching to East Mississippi CC, where he began to fine tune his defensive coordinator style until 2015. When he was hired back with the Trojans in 2016, head coach Neal Brown sent him to the defensive tackles in 2016 and 2017.
Those groups of players ended up only allowing 20.8 points per game through two seasons; at the time, that ranked Lesley’s schemes No. 4 in the nation for points allowed. Brown hired him as defensive coordinator the next season, and he’s been close by ever since.
In 2018, Troy’s defense ranked No. 10 nationally in sacks, No. 16 in tackles for loss, No. 24 in rushing defense, No. 28 in scoring defense, and No. 31 in total defense. Troy finished the season 10-3, and WVU athletic director Shane Lyons took note. When WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen left on New Year’s Eve, Brown, Lesley, offensive line coach Matt Moore, and quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan made the trek to Morgantown.
Since Lesley has been in the Mountain State, he’s rostered three straight seasons of nationally-ranked secondaries. 2019’s position group ranked No. 25 in sacks and No. 35 in tackles for loss. Last season, his defense lead the nation in pass defense and ranked No. 4 in in total defense, No. 21 in scoring defense, No. 23 in interceptions, No. 24 in pass efficiency defense, and No. 28 in rushing defense.
This season, he has, on his hands, a defense that currently ranks No. 20 nationally in first-down defense, No. 28 in red zone defense, and No. 33 in both third-down defense and rushing defense. They’ve only allowed 24.1 points per game through 10 games.
This is Lesley’s first honor of the kind, and he joins Big 12 assistants Jeff Grimes (Baylor OC) and Jim Knowles (Oklahoma State DC). Fellow Trojan coach Brandon Hall, now Troy’s defensive coordinator, also joins the group of 59 nominees. The Big 12 representation goes deeper as well. The 2020 Broyles Award winner is current Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian, who won the award as the offensive coordinator for Alabama. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is also a Broyles Coach, in 2015 as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator.
WVU has put two assistant coaches on the nominees list in the past: safeties coach Steve Dunlap (1996) and OC/ running backs coach Calvin Magee (2007).
The pool of 2021 nominees will be deduced to 15 semi-finalists and five finalists before Sarkisian finally hands off the 26th iteration of the honor at a ceremony in Little Rock, AR on Dec. 7, 2021.
— BROYLES AWARD (@BroylesAward) November 15, 2021