The San Jose State Spartans’ secondary went through a state of turmoil, but the final week into National Signing Day provided one pleasant surprise for the program with the commitment of Jonathan Lenard.
On Dec. 12, the Spartans landed the commitment of three-star safety Keoni Stallworth, but an unexpected mix-up loomed. Within the next month, San Jose State lost its top recruiter and one of the primary pitches to play in the SJSU secondary, defensive backs coach Donte Williams. Soon after, Stallworth decided to look for other options.
The Spartans hung onto three-star corners Tre Webb and Cam Smith, along with two-star Marquise Green, but needed a replacement at safety. That’s when Williams’ recruitment with three-star Rio Mesa safety Jonathan Lenard began to pay off.
“It was a relationship I had built with Donte Williams since the beginning of my recruitment,” Lenard said as to why he was interested in SJSU. “He always kept it real with me since the beginning and been real honest with me.”
San Jose State kept in touch with Lenard although he had committed to San Diego State in the summer. On Dec. 10, Lenard decided to reopen his recruitment.
“I thought (SDSU) would be the best fit for me at the time, but obviously that didn’t work out,” Lenard said. “It was a good opportunity and the coaches were great, but I didn’t feel right over there. Coach Donte still had a spot for me and gave me an official visit. I loved it up there and I came back and he had been talking to me since then.”
“I liked the atmosphere, the campus, mostly I liked the coaches and how well the players bond together,” Lenard said. “It’s like a real brotherhood there like my high school team is. It’s like an extension of family.”
Even after Williams left the program for Arizona, Lenard’s on-campus experience and relationship with the rest of the staff kept his interest high.
“At first it was a little shaky,” Lenard said. “But it was also at the end of the recruitment and I also had a good relationship with the other coaches and players I had met on the official visit. That really kept me wanting to go to San Jose.
“I didn’t think at the beginning of my recruitment that San Jose State would be at the top of my list, but they definitely worked their way up there with the togetherness of the team, the coaches and how involved the coaches were in the recruiting. They really proved how much they wanted me as a player and a person and that I would fit in well. They made me feel like I was part of the family.”
When Will Harris was in place as San Jose State’s new defensive backs coach, Lenard got in contact with him and was soon ready to sign to SJSU.
“Once I heard they had a new defensive backs coach I touched base with him and learned about him,” Lenard said. “He told me how everything would work out and said it would pretty much be the same system, but that we’ll put in the work just as if Donte were there. I know he’s a new coach, but I feel he’ll make all the right moves to get us where we want to go.
“I got a good vibe off of him. Everything he said, he meant it, it seemed like. He seemed like an honest dude and it seemed like he was fired up.”
In Lenard, San Jose State will be getting a multi-dimensional player. At safety, Lenard measures up to all the attributes needed to earn a three-star rating, but he greatly prides himself on his versatility. Lenard also made an impact in high school on offense and as a returner.
“I would say that I’m more than just a defensive back,” Lenard said. “I tried to improve that as much as I could this year, even though I was out for some games. I still played both sides of the ball and as a returner. I would like to say I’m an athlete and I can be used anywhere.
“My overall strength is at defensive back and some of my strengths are that I like to come down and make plays and hit. I always go for the big play, I’m very comfortable doing that. And I like to learn new things from players that are more experienced than me.”
Lenard plans to major in Kineseology and hopes to own his own physical therapy business or work in sports medicine after football.