BURNABY MOUNTAIN — As a health sciences major at Simon Fraser University, Clan middle linebacker Jordan Leech is aware of two different definitions of the word ‘osmosis’.
One comes straight out of his biology textbook, describing the process by which molecules of a solvent evolve into more highly concentrated solutions.
The other, more commonly-used definition is the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas and knowledge.
You know the drill, hang around somebody long enough and you begin to channel their best, creating a new and better version of yourself.
Leech is pretty special on his own, but when you’re a linebacker-in-waiting at SFU, and you’ve got the patience to sit behind the school’s all-time tackling leader (Jordan Herdman) until your final season of eligibility, osmosis should be your reward.
Yet Leech took it even further, becoming roomies for a full season with both Jordan Herdman and his twin brother, outside linebacker Justin.
“I was the third guy in their house,” Leech chuckled before practice Wednesday of the Herdmans, each of whom was selected in the most recent CFL draft.
“They had a basement suite, so I ended up moving in for a year,” added the native of Steilacoom, Wash., who in his redshirt senior season will make the first start of his Clan career Saturday (7 p.m., athletics.sfu.ca) when Simon Fraser plays in Phoenix at Arizona Christian. “We had a great relationship and there was a lot to learn from two guys with such explosive skill sets.”
Speaking of learning, Leech is now a rare commodity on an extremely young and inexperienced SFU football team.
He’s an elder and one of just three recruits remaining from the 2013 incoming class, the last brought to the school by former head coach Dave Johnson.
“It’s myself, (defensive lineman) Rey Arcega and (receiver) Justin Buren,” Leech begins. “We were a class of about 40 guys coming in that year, and now we’re the only three left.”
Clan head coach Kelly Bates doesn’t need that stat to know that he’s got his youngest team yet as he begins his third season at the helm. In his book, he’s just thankful Leech decided to weather adversity.
“He has been everything you want in a senior,” said Bates of Leech, who in sitting behind Jordan Herdman was able to grab a couple of series of snaps per game at most, if and when the GNAC’s all-time leading tackler needed to take a break.
“This is a team with very few seniors and juniors,” said Bates, whose 2017 roster is comprised of 60 first- and second-year players. “(Leech) continues to work his butt off and he continues to show the young guys on this team how things are done.”
The going is bound to once again be tough for a Clan team which hasn’t won since 2014.
Yet through it all, Bates has seen Leech remain undaunted, moving pash his former role as college football’s ultimate understudy.
“Jordan has bided his time,” said Bates. “He’s sat behind the Herdmans for most of his career and he even lived with them.
“It’s never something where he’s had the attitude of ‘woe is me, I can’t get on the field.’ He has understood that he had a player in front of him who was special. He also used that as motivation and you can see that more clearly every day. He came to camp in tremendous shape and he’s done what we need, which is to lead by example.”
In that regard, there’s some osmosis at work, just like there was back at the house where football wasn’t the only thing Leech and Herdmans would talk about.
The brothers were known as much for their brains as their brawn, and Leech resides in the same general neighbourhood.
“I don’t have as much talent in the classroom as those guys,” laughs Leech of the Herdmans who had off-the-charts GPAs as biomolecular physiology majors. “I’m a health-sciences major (with a minor in kinesiology) so they were able to help me out with some chemistry and some biology.”
Which makes us think that perhaps the actual word ‘osmosis’ came up in conversation.
Whatever the net gain, it’s been a formula that Jordan Leech has been happy to absorb.
He’s waited four seasons for his chance, and now he gets to soak it all up.
(Simon Fraser plays its home opener Sept. 9, a non-conference clash with Texas A&M Kingsville).
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