Ashley Lelie is Centurians #13

About how Air Force, Cal, Rice, BYU, Columbia and other schools lost interest in recruiting him as his Radford team went 0-8 his senior year, Lelie said:
“Everybody started dying off.” (HSB)

About how Radford ran the ball most of the time, Lelie said:
“I had like nine catches for a hundred yards and a touchdown.” (HSB)

About how recruiters overlooked Lelie, Ron Lee (who was offensive coordinator at Saint Louis School then) said:
“I don’t think people (recruiters) really understood what he could do. They used him at quarterback. They used him at defensive back. They used him at receiver. That was one of the reasons why he didn’t really stand out.” (HSB)

About how he didn’t have any scholarship offers after he graduated, Lelie said:
“After my senior year, I didn’t know if I was going to play football again. I applied to the University of Hawaii and got accepted into the engineering department. That’s what I thought I was going to do, be a mechanical engineer.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “A funny thing happened on the way to the dorm, however. Lelie attended a passing camp at UH and caught the eye of Guy Benjamin, who was an assistant under Fred von Appen. Benjamin asked Lelie to walk on. And so he did. He redshirted that first year. The team went 0-12. Rough. Twenty straight losses, including his last season in high school.”

About how Lelie started slowly at UH, Ron Lee (who JJ had hired as his WR coach) said:
“He was a laid-back kind of guy. He didn’t try to impress the coaches. Being there just for spring ball, we didn’t know all the guys, and we had so many receivers, he just didn’t stand out.” (HSB)

About how Lelie started getting noticed during the week leading up to the final spring scrimmage, Ron Lee said:
“When he started to run right by the DBs late in that spring workout we started to pay closer attention to him. Then it was just kind of a gradual process where he moved up the depth chart. When we came back in the summer, he started to show us.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “That was a turning point, said Lelie, who thought about playing basketball for the Rainbows. He said he even went so far as to talk to then-assistant Bob Nash about trying out.”

About what JJ told him when he said that he thought about trying out for the basketball team, Lelie said:
“Once I went to June and talked to June, he said, ‘You have one of the best shots of anybody on the team of making a lot of money playing football in the NFL.'” (HSB)

About the 74 catches for 1,110 yards and 11 TDs he had during his sophomore year (UH went 3-9), and his critics calling him a “system receiver”, Lelie said:
“I didn’t feel like I did enough to help my team. I told myself, next year, I’ll have to have 2,000 yards for us to win six or seven games. Going into my next year, my whole mentality was to prove I’m not a system guy. I gotta make those plays for our team to win and play at the next level. We had to move the ball, move the chains and have enough firepower.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “No Hawaii fan will ever forget Lelie’s spectacular, leaping, last-second touchdown grab that gave the Warriors a 38-34 victory over Fresno State. That single catch rocked Aloha Stadium. It was, perhaps, the biggest single catch in Warrior history. On national TV. Against the No. 18 team in the land. Capping a nine-catch, 122-yard effort that only got in gear after a crushing hit by Fresno State safety Cameron Worrell.”

About the big hit he took from Fresno State safety Cameron Worrell said:
“That hit woke me up.” (HSB)

About the end of the Fresno State game, Lelie said:
“That whole sequence of events, that stuck with me even through my career in the NFL. That whole game is still like a dream to me. It’s like an out-of-body experience. The stadium was so loud. I still get goose bumps thinking about it. That was my most fun game ever. My whole career. NFL. Ever.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “If that was his most fun game ever, his final three games as a Warrior might have been the greatest trifecta ever put together by a receiver and quarterback at the Division I level. Ever. In a 52-51 victory over Ben Roethlisberger and the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks, Lelie caught six passes for 211 yards and three of Rolovich’s seven touchdowns. The two followed that with an even better outing in a 52-30 rout of Air Force. Lelie caught nine passes for 285 yards and three long TDs where he simply outran the smaller, slower Falcon defensive backs. Topping it off, the Warriors put a 72-45 shellacking on undefeated BYU in the season finale. Lelie caught eight passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 23 catches for 758 yards and eight touchdowns.”

About his success with Lelie, Rolo said:
“We knew each other so well.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “The familiarity came from hours spent on the practice field. Rolovich said Jones had them do a drill where Lelie would run “choice routes,” either a post or an out, depending on the defensive back’s hip position or cushion off the line. Jones told Lelie not to tell Rolovich which route he would chose. They had to read each other and the defender. Rolovich said it got to the point where he knew which route Lelie would pick simply by looking at Lelie’s body language or his footwork or his lean.”

About throwing to Lelie, Rolo said:
“If I had Ashley, I could throw it in an 8-foot circle and he could get it. He had unbelievable body control to go with soft hands and, of course, 4.3 speed. That’s a nice target to have.” (HSB)

About how leaving UH a year early worked out for him financially, but he wishes he would have stayed for his senior year, Lelie said:
“In the NFL, once money gets involved — money and politics — it takes the childhoodness out of it. If I’d known what I know now about the NFL, I would have waited. The college atmosphere, it’s so close-knit. I wish I would have taken the extra year to be in college and have the most fun in the world doing it. You’re kind of doing it for your classmates. Your family. Your high school. Even if I would have gotten hurt, I think I would put up that risk just because of how fun it was.” (HSB)


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