On Film: When you think of a Donte Williams recruit at San Jose State, you typically think of athleticism and impressive coverage talent in the secondary, but Jonathan Lenard has a dynamic skillset that goes farther than defending receivers. Lenard will be the first to tell you that he considers himself an athlete rather than a DB. He prides himself on his playmaking ability with the ball, whether it be on defense or returning kicks.
But Lenard’s senior film first spotlights his ability to lay the wood from the safety spot. You will also see him catching screen passes in the backfield, using a combination of strength to and speed to shed tacklers and bounce around blockers to the open field.
These are the type of attributes that can make a talented safety a game-changer and a fan favorite, but the Spartans first priority for Lenard will undoubtedly be his coverage ability and how well he handles his overall safety duties.
When receivers or running backs beat the front line, he definitely shows the ability to prevent the ball carrier from getting to the second level. He can also be aggressive in his pursuit to the ball, but backs it up with his strength in bringing the ball carrier down to the ground.
Recruiting Impact: San Jose State only took one true safety in the 2016 class with Lenard, but they got a good one. The Spartans thought they were solid with three-star safety Keoni Stallworth, but he started looking for other options when defensive backs coach Donte Williams left for Arizona.
Stallworth had 10 offers and was getting looks from power-five conferences and his loss at the time was perceived as a big one when he decommitted. The Spartans did a remarkable job to replace the hole with Jonathan Lenard, who had been previously committed to San Diego State.
“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," Lenard said. "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.”
In fact, although both are three-star recruits, Lenard is the higher ranked of the two when it comes to Scout’s position rankings.
Of California safeties in the 2016 class, Lenard ranks 15th compared to Stallworth at No. 20. In the greater West region, Lenard ranks as one of the top commits to choose a school other than a power-five program. Ahead of Lenard at No. 20 in the West were commits at 17-19 to Dartmouth, Boise State and Colorado State, as well as two BYU commits in the top 15.
On a national level, Lenard was ranked the 95th best safety prospect while Stallworth finished 120th.
Lenard is one of several SJSU commits that can make the claim that they are on the very higher end of the three-star group. Montel Aaron, Jaelen Lewis, Adarrus Wilson, JaQuan Blackwell, Mikey Grandy, Cam Smith and Blake Walls all rank impressively well in the 2016 class, making it even better on paper than just what the stars read.
Quotable: “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.”
Coach's Comment: "Jonathan brings a lot of skills to our secondary," SJSU Head Coach Ron Caragher said. "He is a physical and active safety. His physical style of play and ability to tackle in the open field will be a boost to our secondary."
Final Thought: San Jose State lost one three-star safety, but managed to replace the spot by adding Jonathan Lenard to the class. Lenard is one of the better gets in the 2016 class and his playmaking ability should make him fun to watch in the secondary for years to come.