Leondre James knows football. He knows life, too.
Now he’s getting a chance to make a living playing football.
James, a 2018 Louisiana College graduate, will be participating at the Beyond Sports Network (BSN) 2019 National Scouting Combine during the week of Feb. 27. The National Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., is an exclusive invite-only event that bridges the gap between athletes and professional teams. BSN provides each participant with the highest level of testing standards that showcases their abilities to pro coaches and scouts.
James garnered this invitation-only event off the heels of a redemptive college career that saw early success, early off-the-field troubles and ultimately redemption. After playing in three different uniforms, he finished his collegiate career with 136 catches for 1,780 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns.
“Even though I went through bumps and bruises in college, I remained focused and still ended up finishing strong. I didn’t quit,” James said, a 6-foot, 180-pound receiver. “I kept going and made the best of it. I thank God every day for keeping me going.”
James began his college career at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he played in all 12 games as a freshman, caught 15 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. Success appeared inevitable for James as a receiver for the Green Wave. However, trouble snuck in and he was suspended following that season for a violation of program policy that caused him to miss the spring and ultimately not rejoin the team.
In 2016, he transferred to Independence Community College, where he was able to find instant success by catching 45 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns in just one season.
“My off-the-field behavior wasn’t the problem. I just ended up being in a bad situation, but Tulane university turned me into the man I am today,” James said.
He's a man Louisiana College head coach Justin Charles describes as one who understands the importance of a degree and the value of being a great teammate. After James’ short stint at Independence, he arrived in Pineville to join the Wildcats of Louisiana College.
“He knows what it takes to be successful in life and the value of hard work at everything, not just when it's time to play,” Charles said. “He knows how to prepare for the moment and not wait for the moment to prepare.”
James spent his final two collegiate years at Louisiana College and racked up 76 catches for 1,141 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns.
“I had to be a leader, and I came in with high expectations,” James said, who is better known as “Moss.” “I developed a big leadership role because most of the guys were younger than me and looked up to me.”
Charles explained how James’ work and enthusiasm towards football was greatly elevated from year one to year two. He said as a player, James learned that it’s just as important to go to class, lift weights and workout--not just practice hard.
“He excelled tremendously his senior season when he discovered those things as a student-athlete,” Charles said. James credits his mother, father and uncle for continuing to support him and give him the wisdom, resources and support he’s needed through the years. He said he can hear them telling him to “work harder than my situation.”
“Where I’m from, we never had anything and I saw a lot of people from my area who had a chance to make it but didn't, and that motivated me to go even harder,” James said, a Donaldsonville native and 2014 Donaldsonville High graduate. “My goal is to take my mother out the hood, the rough section in Donaldsonville.” He certainly has a plan to do that: football.
Since graduating from Louisiana College, James has been training in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to improve his speed, route running and strengthening his hands. All of this is to prepare him for the BSN 2019 National Scouting Combine.
Charles said all James needs is an opportunity to become a professional athlete.
“If that opportunity is granted and he attacks the opportunity while taking nothing for granted, he could be very successful at the next level,” Charles said.
“Leondre was advised to make sure that he understands that professional organizations are investing a lot of money in each player so prepare and present yourself in everything. They evaluate everything that you have done and people that you have encountered. For Leondre, we made sure that he understood not to make football his God, but to make sure that he understood that football can be a way to pursue his main goal in life. Graduate, become someone respected in your community, and to raise a family will be remembered more than any snap he takes professionally."
James added, “I just want to thank God, my family and my uncle for keeping me motivated and pushing me because no one knows what I went through these last five years.”