"They were pretty much inseparable when they were together at Louisville," said Leffew, a former Boyle County all-state lineman who earned All-American honors at Louisville. "They have a real good bond with each other."
That bond will apparently get even stronger now that Nord, a former UK player and running backs coach, is leaving Illinois after only six months to fill the opening on Joker Phillips' staff at Kentucky that was created Wednesday when special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Steve Ortmayer was fired.
While the job opening was only posted Friday at UK and must remain posted for a week, the Champaign News-Gazette reported Friday that Nord has left Illinois to become UK's new tight ends coach. Nord was hired by Illinois coach Ron Zook in December as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator after spending 15 seasons at Louisville. He was also recruiting coordinator at Louisville.
Nord helped recruit both Travis Leffew and his brother, Bobby, to play for the Cardinals.
"He has always been there for everything we need," Travis Leffew, who was coached by Summers at Louisville, said. "He knows our family. He knows our wives and kids. He has been very close to us. He is so well known in the state of Kentucky. He's one of the top recruiters in Kentucky.
"Everybody relates well to him because he is a great guy. He always has a close bond with everyone he coaches. His group did everything together. His wife cooked dinner for players at their house. All the guys loved him."
He lettered at Kentucky on the 1975, 1977 and 1978 teams as a center and tight end. A teammate on the 1978 team was current UK linebacker coach/recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith.
"Him and Chuck are big buddies, too. When Chuck was coaching us at Boyle County and Nord came to recruit, you could tell they were close," Leffew said. "They both had that UK tie even wit Nord at Louisville. They have a really good connection from him recruiting us to them playing together at UK. They have known each other a long time and get along well.
"That's why this is a move I can understand for him. He's close to Smith and Summer. I knew he would want to get back to Kentucky when he went to Illinois. He loves Kentucky and this area. I knew he would be back. I did not know when or where, but I knew he would be back. Heck, I never thought he would leave Louisville but things just happen."
Leffew says not to underestimate the role Nord could have in developing tight ends, either. The Cats have not had a consistent playmaker at tight end the last two seasons since Boyle County's Jacob Tamme left for the NFL.
He helped develop Ibn Green into a two-time All-American tight end when he had 217 career catches. He also tutored two NFL tight ends in 2003 in Ronnie Ghent and Richard Owens. Ghent became the first Conference-USA player at any position to earn first team All-Conference honors for four years.
"One thing he has always done is produce quality tight ends," Leffew said. "He put a great tight end on the field every year at Louisville. He had a bunch of them that were very, very good players. He sent guys to the NFL almost every year. One thing he can certainly do is develop and coach tight ends and that could really help UK."