Patience paid off for the Hawaii football team, which received a signed commitment from a safety who was at Georgia Tech for two years.
Brandon Leslie, who played for the College of Sequoias in 2010, signed the national letter of intent Monday, and faxed a copy to the UH coaches that night. The NCAA recognizes a faxed copy as a binding agreement.
Feb. 2 was the first day of the national signing period for college football prospects.
"Every year, we try to save one scholarship in case a top (prospect) becomes available," said UH head coach Greg McMackin, who developed that strategy as a defensive coordinator at Miami and Texas Tech.
Among the late signings at those schools, according to McMackin, were now All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens and receiver Wes Welker of the New England Patriots.
Leslie also decided to take his time.
"I did my research, and I decided to sign with Hawaii," Leslie said.
As a senior at Fresno’s Edison High in 2008, Leslie signed with Georgia Tech, turning down offers from Stanford, Washington and Nebraska.
Leslie redshirted that year, and then played in 2009 under Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson, a former UH offensive coordinator.
"I had good relationships there," Leslie said.
But Leslie left to help care for his father, who was ill. He decided to remain in Central California, enrolling at the College of the Sequoias.
Leslie said he received offers from Arizona, Iowa State and Nevada. But as a Warriors fan "since high school," he said, it was an easy choice to pick UH.
"I like the program, and I like the coaches," Leslie said.
Leslie is scheduled to take his official Hawaii recruiting visit this weekend. But a few years ago, he visited his aunt, who lived in Hawaii for eight years. He spent the time island-hopping.
"I love everything about Hawaii," he said.
Leslie said he will enroll at UH in June, and have two years to play two seasons.
He said he is 6 feet 1 and 208 pounds, and is capable of running 40 yards in 4.5 seconds.
"I like his size and his speed and his ability," McMackin said. "What I really like is he’s a good person. We did our homework. We talked to a lot of people. We talked to high school coaches and his JC coach. We know Paul Johnson. Everybody says he’s a great person."
McMackin said Leslie will compete at safety, providing flexibility in the UH secondary.
The initial plan was to move John Hardy-Tuliau, who played quarter (nickel back) as a true freshman in 2010, to safety. With Leslie’s commitment, Hardy-Tuliau will instead shift to cornerback. Last year’s starting cornerbacks, Lametrius Davis and Jeramy Bryant, completed their UH eligibility after the 2010 Hawaii Bowl.
Hardy-Tuliau, Tank Hopkins and Mike Edwards, who played at Tennessee in 2009, are expected to be the top three cornerbacks. In several of UH’s defensive schemes, three cornerbacks are employed.
"On paper, there are a lot of different things we can do now," McMackin said.
Leslie also is looking ahead.
"I’m adventurous," said Leslie, who answers to nicknames Taz and B-Les. "I like to try different things."