Jordan Lesley is in his first year as the defensive coordinator at West Virginia, and he coaches the outside linebackers as well. As the program is building its culture and looking to make its mark as one of the top teams in the Big 12 and in the nation, a big part of the overall build is surrounded by the defense and Lesley’s group has played at a high level during his tenure, especially during the past two; years as the defensive lead at WVU. He brought a lot of outstanding experience when he came to Morgantown in 2019 and in his first year led his defensive line to marked improvement, becoming one of the best lines in the Big 12 Conference. Late in the 2020 offseason while in quarantine during COVID-19, the defensive coordinator at the time, left the University, forcing the entire defensive staff to pick up added responsibility. Lesley and cornerbacks coach Jahmile Addae were put in charge of overseeing the defense – Lesley the front end and Addae the back end. Lesley handled the oversight of the game plan, having the final say of the defensive unit. WVU’s defense was one of the top Power 5 defenses in 2020, earning the distinction of one of the most improved defenses in the nation and being among the Top defensive units in several categories. At the end of the 2020 season, Lesley was promoted to defensive coordinator and heading into the 2021 season, high expectations were expected from his defense. His unit underwent loses, including its top two
players to the NFL draft and two more important figures to transfer. Lesley’s defense has held its own in 2021, ranking among the top units of the Big 12, a league that is now known for its tough defenses. The Big 12 Conference was always known as an offense-only conference, but that trademark has certainly changed thanks to defenses such as WVUs. The WVU defensive trademark under Lesley is a tough, blue-collar and physical play with an ability to be a very opportunistic unit. The Gold and Blue defense will throw a variety of looks at opposing offenses trying to confuse and cause frustration and then forcing them into making mistakes. Because of Lesley’s years of successful experience, coaching nationally ranked defenses, player development and the leadership he has shown to the overall development of the Unit, he should be considered as one of the best assistant coaches in the country.
“Lesley joined the Mountaineer coaching staff as the defensive line coach in 2019. He came with Neal Brown and after serving as an assistant coach at Troy for three years (2016-18), the first two years as the defensive tackles coach and the 2018 season as the defensive line coach. From 2016-18, Troy’s defense allowed 20.8 points per game, ranking No. 4 nationally among non-power 5 schools. In 2018, the Trojans were ranked No. 10 nationally in sacks, No. 16 in tackles for loss, No. 24 in rushing defense, No. 28 in scoring defense and No. 31 in total defense. Three of Lesley’s defensive linemen were named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team, including Trevon Saunders, who earned first-team honors. Troy finished 10-3, tied for first place in the Sun Belt Conference Eastern Division, and defeated Buffalo, 42-32, in the Dollar General Bowl. Prior to Troy, Lesley was the defensive coordinator at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Mississippi (2013-15), before serving two stints at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi, first as defensive line coach in 2010 and then as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in 2012. He also spent two stints at Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas, first as the linebackers coach from 2007-09, and as the defensive coordinator in 2011. He spent a year as a graduate assistant coach at Troy in 2006. While at East Mississippi, Lesley’s defenses allowed an average of just 10.3 points and 232.1 yards per game as the Lions posted a combined 32-1 record with national titles in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, the Lions tallied 149 quarterback sacks and 57 interceptions in his three seasons. In his first season at East Mississippi, the Lions recorded an NJCAA-best 67 sacks and finished second nationally with 30 interceptions and by allowing just 9.8 points per game. The 2012 NWCC squad claimed the school’s first bowl victory in 20 years and earned a No. 9 NJCAA final ranking. The 2010 Northwest team posted an undefeated regular season on the way to finishing with a No. 6 national ranking. Lesley helped lead Kilgore to the 2007 Southwest Junior College Football Conference Championship en route to an appearance in the Heart of Texas Bowl. During his four seasons at Kilgore, Lesley helped direct the Rangers to three consecutive playoff appearances while helping tutor 11 players that went on to sign at four-year schools, including six NJCAA All-Americans.”
West Virginia last six players to the NFL Draft when head coach Neal Brown took over the program in 2019, bringing one of his star pupils, Jordan Lesley with him from Troy.The Mountaineers won two of its last three games in 2019 to finish with a 5-7 mark.Even though the COVID pandemic slowed things down for WVU in 2020, the Mountaineers finished with six wins (6-4 record) and ended the year with a Liberty Bowl win over Army. The Mountaineers finished in a tie for fourth place in the Big 12 standings.In 2021, WVU is still climbing toward greatness to earn a place among the top teams in the Big 12 Conference and in the nation. As of Nov. 14, the Mountaineers are 4-6 with two games left in the season. They have high hopes in finishing with wins in their last two games to earn their second straight bowl appearance. The Mountaineers took Oklahoma and Texas Tech down to the wire with both squad having to kick last second field goals to pull out wins against WVU. The Mountaineers defeated TCU on the road and came home to defeat Iowa Sttate, one of the top teams in the league for the past three years.
In 2021: the WVU defense is No. 10 nationally in tackles for loss, No. 20 in first-down defense, No. 28 in red zone defense and No. 33 in rushing defense and third-down defense.The WVU defense, No. 2 among Power 5 schools in defensive improvement, had an outstanding year in 2020, leading the nation in
pass defense and ranking No. 4 in in total defense (291.4), No. 21 in
scoring defense (20.5), No. 23 in interceptions (11), No. 24 in pass
efficiency defense (121.52) and No. 28 in rushing defense (131.8).In 2019, the Mountaineer defense was ranked No. 25 nationally in sacks and No. 35 in tackles for loss.
In 2021: Linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo is No. 2; in the Big 12 in solo tackles and No. 19 nationally. He also is No. 2 in the league in total tackles and No. 38 in the nation. Safety Sean Mahone is No. 13 in the Big 12 in tackles. Defensive tackle Dante Stills is No. 2 in the Big 12 in tackles for loss and No. 5 in the Big 12 and No. 46 nationally in sacks. Defensive End Taijh Alston is on the Ted Hendricks Award watch list and is among the Top 15 in the Big 12 in tackles for loss.In 2020: Darius Stills was named the program’s first Consensus All-American since
2006 and 12th in school history. He was the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of
the Year, an All-Big 12 Conference First Team lineman for the second
straight year and was signed as a free agent by the Las Vegas Raiders.
Over his final two years, he finished with 10.5 sacks and 21 tackles for
Akheem Mesidor was an All-Big 12 Conference Second Team honoree and also
earned freshman All-America honors, and Dante Stills earned All-Big 12
Conference Second Team honors by the AP.
In 2019, his defensive line enjoyed a successful season for the
Mountaineer defense, finishing No. 25 nationally in sacks and No. 35 in
tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Darius and Dante Stills were tied
for No. 2 in the Big 12 in sacks and Darius was No. 5 in tackles for
loss and Dante was No. 10. The Stills brothers earned All-Big 12
Conference honors, Darius on first team and Dante on second team.