Lesué overcomes obstacles to reach AFL
Football’s always on his mind.
Since his father’s passing when he was 2, football has helped Aaron Lesué grow into the professional football player he is now.
Sporting No. 22 because his father wore the same number in high school, the 2000 Fallon grad is capitalizing on his opportunity in the Arena Football League and hoping that the NFL will take a chance on him.
“Football’s always been the ultimate goal. My father was inspirational,” Lesué said.
Lesué wasn’t given much of a chance after high school to continue playing his favorite sport. He lit up the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex for Tommy Thomson in the 1998 and 1999 seasons as he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing during his final year.
After receiving some interest — but not a scholarship offer — from Fresno State, he served his two-year Mormon mission in Ireland before coming back to start school.
“Even though my stats were great, I didn’t receive any offers at all,” Lesué recalled.
Upon his return, Lesué found a home at Dixie State in Utah and played two seasons as a slot receiver but only a couple schools were serious about Lesué playing after his junior college eligibility ended. Utah State reached out to Lesué, but wanted him to convert to running back to fit with the Aggies’ mold.
“I walked on at Utah State and was the seventh receiver (in camp),” Lesué said. “Three days later, I moved from seventh to the starting slot receiver.”
Hawaii and its run-and-shoot offense behind quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Colt Brennan were also curious about the former Fallon star.
But everything happens for a reason.
After graduating from Utah State, Lesué did not receive feedback about his future in football and took up rugby and trained in mixed martial arts before getting a phone call from the AFL.
The owners of the Utah Blaze saw Lesué in action while with the Aggies and wanted him to suit up. With three seasons under his belt, Lesué has transformed into one of the best AFL receivers.
“I got really lucky and blessed,” he said.
But it wasn’t easy once Lesué got into the AFL.
Lesué said former coach Ernesto Purnsley didn’t favor the former Fallon star and didn’t recommend keeping him on the Blaze after he was fired during the 2010 season with Utah sitting at 1-6. Ron James, however, gave him a chance and it’s worked out well for Lesué as he enters his fourth season.
“(Ron) liked me a lot and gave me an opportunity,” Lesué added. “There are a lot of obstacles.”
After setting records last season, Lesué’s waiting for a phone call to football’s promised land.
“The AFL is full of guys released from the NFL. They come in and ask me why I’m not in the NFL,” Lesué said. “I’ve definitely proven myself in a lot ways. The ultimate goal is the NFL. It’s still on my mind.”
The 2012 AFL season for Lesué did grab attention from some NFL teams, including the Cowboys and Jets. Lesué said Dallas has shown the most interest.
Making the jump back into conventional football, however, shouldn’t factor against Lesué.
“There’s an adjustment. The principles of running routes and catching the football are the same,” he said.
Lesué was named to the All-Arena first team last year after setting a single-season combined AFL record with 64 touchdown receptions. He also set a franchise record and placed third AFL history with 56 regular-season touchdown receptions. Entering his fourth season with the Blaze at the age of 30, Lesué hopes to receive a shot at the NFL but is mindful that his age could lower his stock.
“They feel my age is a strike but the Jets said they were interested in talent and if you can perform,” Lesué said. “I’ve taken care of myself and my body.”
Off the field, Lesué has been active with the church and in the Utah community and helped with charity events including Salt Lake City’s version of Dancing with the Stars. Lesué even pursued bobsledding to help pass the offseason.
It hasn’t been easy for Lesué to go from a star running back with the Greenwave to one of the AFL’s best receivers. But Lesué wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Sometimes I do wish it could be easier, but I don’t think about it because I had to work so hard to get here,” Lesué said.