Backup linebacker Chandler Leniu has left WSU, according to multiple reports citing an athletic department spokesperson. The news was first reported by Cougfan.com.
Leniu, who was going to be a redshirt sophomore, is a former three-star composite recruit, although he was considered a four-star prospect by Scout.com. He registered 14 tackles last season.
Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times spoke with Leniu’s dad, who said Chandler is headed to Riverside Community College in California, which is roundly known for frequently sending players to FBS destinations. He’ll have one season to play there before transferring again.
David Leniu said the family just didn’t feel like Chandler was going to realize his potential at WSU.
“It wasn’t panning out the way we thought it would, we wanted him to get a fair shot and we didn’t believe he was getting a fair shot. We decided to have him forgo the season and get him back home,” David Leniu told Loh.
That’s an interesting perception, considering Leniu frequently ran with the twos at middle linebacker during spring practices. That would seem like a pretty fair shot in a world where a young starter (Peyton Pelluer) became firmly entrenched while Leniu was redshirting in his first year.
However, Leniu might have fallen behind Aaron Porter on the depth chart by the time the Crimson and Gray Game rolled around; Porter started for Crimson, and Leniu made his first appearance for Crimson midway through the second series. That said, the Spokesman-Review’s Jacob Thorpe, who covers the team better than anyone, found the move surprising, saying Leniu “seemed headed for more reps.”
The elephant in the room, of course, is Leniu’s size: At just 6-foot, he had ballooned up to 260 pounds, which of course is quite large for a linebacker. There had been unconfirmed rumblings leading into spring practice that the coaches were planning on moving Leniu to the defensive line because of that, but when practices started, Leniu was definitely with the linebackers.
Is it possible that both sides saw defensive line in his future at WSU, so Leniu decided to go play somewhere for a year before rebooting his FBS career at linebacker? It would make logical sense, although we’ll probably never know for sure.
Players have a tough choice to make after their second years, because other than a potential graduate transfer, that’s really their last good chance to make a move without sacrificing a year of playing time by sitting out. So Leniu, stuck behind an entrenched starter and potentially facing the possibility of a position change (or maybe even just a strong suggestion to drop 30 pounds against his desires), took that opportunity.
Thus continues Leniu’s wanderings as a football player; he transferred from his hometown Lakewood (California) High School to national powerhouse St. John Bosco in nearby Bellflower before his junior season, then ended up at WSU after initially committing to WSU, then flipping to Cal, then signing a letter of intent with Cal, before apparently not meeting admission requirements and heading north in the end. The move to Bosco, in particular, probably gives you a good sense of how Leniu and his family view the potential trajectory of his football career.
Best of luck to Leniu.