Now that Texas Longhorns tight end signee Reese Leitao had his felony drug charge reduced to a misdemeanor with a four-year deferred sentence, head coach Tom Herman is getting ready to decide whether to allow Leitao to play college football for the ‘Horns.
“We’re aware of the recent proceedings regarding Reese Leitao and are gathering facts,” Herman said in a statement released by the school.
“After the latest information is thoroughly reviewed by me and our staff and the Athletics Department,” the coach added, “we will make a decision regarding Reese’s status with our program.”
During an administrative search at Jenks High School on February 28, Leitao admitted to selling the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, a controlled substance. At the time, Leitao was in possession of $1,309 in cash and 20 pills, 19 of which were stored in a prescription bottle in his underwear.
As a result, he was initially charged with a felony for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of a school.
And despite the difficulties of getting such a charge reduced to a misdemeanor, that’s what Leito’s attorney, Allen Smallwood, was able to accomplish, seemingly against the odds.
In fact, Smallwood indicated to the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday that he wasn’t sure he had ever engineered such a remarkable turnaround.
Leitao’s reputation around Jenks as a model student-athlete played a big role, as prosecutors “figured this was a young man worth taking a chance on. He’d been doing this for about a week. It was just a spur of the moment thing. Momentary lapse of judgment — big time,” Smallwood said.
For Herman and the Texas athletic department, Leitao’s future could hinge on whether Herman and the administration determine that the Xanax didn’t actually belong to Leitao.
Here’s how the story coming out of Jenks High School went in April, according to Horns Digest:
A source connected to Jenks High School told HD it was their belief Leitao offered to take the tablets from a female Jenks student from a well-connected family in Tulsa, because Leitao didn’t think he’d get checked by campus officers.
Expect Herman and the athletic department to assess the credibility of this story in an effort to determine whether this was a short-term mistake made by Leitao in an effort to help out his friend or something more.
If whatever truth eventually emerges from this fits into the “something more” category, that would likely disqualify Leitao from playing football for Herman, but that’s speculation based on Smallwood saying that his
And there will be stipulations attached, in all likelihood, which would almost certainly include the need for Leitao to successful complete his deferred sentence without any issues — he would likely have a zero tolerance policy at Texas for future mistakes.
The bottom line is that misdemeanors don’t typically keep prospects from playing in college, so Leitao appears close to beating odds that seemed stacked against him at the end of February.