Braden especially pushed Les, telling him that he had all the tools to be an FBS tight end.
“Just him saying things like that and going, watching the games and being there at the pregame down on the field watching the guys warm up, it just got me excited and kind of lit this fire inside of me where I would look at these guys and be like, ‘Man I know I can do that.” So that kind of just motivated me to get started and start pushing my body to new limits as far as in the weight room and with my diet.”
That’s when Les got in touch with Chad Ikei, a fitness trainer who specializes in getting players prepared for their NFL Combine and pro day performances. Brown started training with Ikei in Hawaii back in December, and his results showed at the BYU pro day.
Most of Brown’s training for this pro day was focused heavily on the workout portion, rather than drills. They trained three times a day, six days a week switching between speed, agility and strength workouts.
Despite not focusing on football drills during his workouts, Tony Pauline of Sports Illustrated said that Brown “did not struggle catching the ball” at the BYU pro day.
Still, Brown hasn’t laced up the cleats since his senior season back in 2005. He’s a mostly clean slate who seven years later will hope to stick in an NFL training camp.
Brown has come a long way physically from his days in Highland High School, but it seems like he may still possess the skills that made him a highly touted high school player.
“I basically had a reputation for being a guy who could just go up and get the ball. I could move pretty well and I jump pretty well and I had pretty good hands. I was also a pretty solid blocker on the outside. I have a little bit of a mean streak in me, so it was nice to get physical out there too.”
It seems like Brown is coming into this process at the right time despite taking a different route than guys like Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, etc. The highly athletic “joker” TE is really emerging, and it seems being a former basketball player only helps.
Despite having that history as a receiver, Brown said he’d be willing to contribute in any way on the football field.
“I just want an opportunity to play and develop as a player and ultimately help teams win games. It doesn’t matter if I’m an offensive end, defensive end, special teams. I like contact, I like to bang around. If it means me being on special teams flying down there and knocking some heads, I’m more than happy doing that. Obviously making plays, catching the ball, scoring touchdowns is fun, but what it comes down to is helping a team win games and I’d really like that opportunity.”
Coming back to football after seven years away from the game, and having opportunities after high school from some top FBS schools, you’d think that Les might regret his decision to walk away from the game after high school. Brown doesn’t think that way though, and ultimately thinks the path he chose might have been the best for him.
“I don’t really necessarily regret it. I think the decision I made and the experiences that I had ultimately developed me into the person I am now. I don’t know that if I had played football out of high school if I had stuck with it or not being kind of a scrawny little kid. I just focus on what I can control at this point in time. I made my decisions, I try to live my life without any regrets and just make the most out of what i was given.”
After looking over CBA rules, Brown and his agent Michael Ballard have confirmed that Les is not eligible for the NFL Draft. Since his high school graduation year was 2006, Brown’s draft class would have been in 2011. Brown is an undrafted, rookie free agent who can start negotiating with teams immediately.
Rooting for Les won’t be difficult. We all wish we had that opportunity to try again at something that we love to do. It’s not the most typical path to the NFL, and we actually may never see this exact path again, but with the athleticism that Brown showed, and with his past success in the sport, opportunities in pro football will likely come to Les.
“I believe in myself and I don’t need every team in the league to believe in me or even five or two or three teams. I just need one. Hopefully when I get that chance I’ll make that team look like the smartest team in the NFL.”