Former Jenks (Okla.) tight end Reese Leitao has officially beaten the odds.
On Tuesday, Texas Longhorns athletic director Mike Perrin released a statement acknowledging that Leitao will be able to enroll in school days after Leitao had his February felony drug charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
“We’ve reviewed and discussed at length the circumstances surrounding our football signee Reese Leitao,” Perrin said. “After considerable reflection, I have decided to allow him to be a part of our program.”
In a meeting with Perrin that also included Leito’s parents, the Longhorns signee once again expressed contrition, sincerity, and a willingness to be held accountable for his actions, according to Perrin.
“He understands that he will, strongly, be held to a very high standard of behavior at the University of Texas,” Perrin added. “He committed to me that he will take this negative action and turn it into a positive outcome.”
Leitao was charged in late February with a felony for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school. 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.
One week ago, Leitao received a four-year deferred sentence — if he completes his community service and avoids any more legal issues, the misdemeanor will not show up on his record.
Throughout the process, Leitao’s sterling reputation as a student-athlete at Jenks weighed heavily with the local prosecutors and with Perrin.
“Based on several discussions with people who know Reese well as a person both on and off the field, he’s been a good student, highly-regarded teammate and leader among his peers, Perrin said. “All indications are that he’s a young man with a history of good character and behavior who made a poor decision.”
While the court case was still unfolding, Leitao’s attorney, the top criminal defense lawyer in Tulsa, indicated that head coach Tom Herman allowed Leitao a “fighting chance” of keeping his scholarship if the charge was reduced.
And even though Leitao’s attorney acknowledged that he’d never had a case play out quite like this one after such damaging initial allegations, Leitao will have his chance at redemption at Texas.
In a BON reader poll taken last week, 57 percent of respondents believed that Leitao should be able to play football for the ‘Horns.
Ultimately, so did Perrin.
“Reese is determined to make this situation a turning point in his life and not an event that defines his character,” Perrin said. “Coach Herman and I welcome Reese to the Longhorn family, support him and look forward to a promising future.”