Lehigh wide receiver Jorge Portorreal

Profile: Jorge Portorreal, Lehigh football

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior plays wide receiver.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Steve Boyle

After bursting onto the scene as a freshman, Jorge Portorreal proved his rookie season was no fluke in year two by earning first team All-Patriot League honors. In the fall he eclipsed the 100-yard plateau twice, including a career day against Bucknell with a 9-catch, 216-yard, two-touchdown performance, and led the Patriot League in receiving yards per game both in league contests (103.2) and overall (72.2). Under new head coach Tom Gilmore, and wide receivers coach Brandon Lemon, Portorreal is poised to take yet another step forward in 2019.

MAJOR: Finance with a minor in real estate

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM JOB?

Definitely playing professional football at the highest level, but outside of sports I want to work for a Big Four [professional services] company, preferably to be a consultant. This summer I get a pretty close to that, interning with Ernst & Young in New York City.

WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN FOOTBALL?

I played basketball initially for two years before I started playing football, and all my friends were playing football. When they would go to practice, I would be home. I was kind of left out a little bit so then I started playing [around age 10]. Initially I was terrible, but I just wanted to do it because all my friends were playing it. After a while, you start playing with guys who are better than you and you adapt and you get better, and then I really just fell in love with it as soon as I started picking up the level of play and matching their intensity.

Lehigh wide receiver Jorge Portorreal

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT FOOTBALL?

I think the most challenging thing about football is consistency because of the physicality, being physical every day with the wear and tear on your body. It’s easy to do it game one through game four, but when you have an 11-game season, trying to keep that intensity for the ninth, 10th and 11th game is pretty hard when your knees are not feeling as good, or your arms are sore, or your shoulder’s sore.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS PLAYED WIDE RECEIVER?

I kind of played a lot of everything. When I was really, really young, like Pop Warner [youth football], I played safety and running back. At the high school level I played receiver, running back and cornerback. 

IS WIDE RECEIVER YOUR FAVORITE POSITION SINCE YOU’RE STILL PLAYING IT?

It’s definitely my favorite. I like the variety of it. It comes with a lot of excitement, scoring touchdowns, but then you can get gritty with blocks and crackbacks, stuff like that—catching the ball and route running. You get to freelance, it’s almost an art when you’re route running. You can do a lot of different things that the defender’s not expecting.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR PROUDEST ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

I have two really big ones. Winning the state championship my sophomore year in high school is one. I went to St. Peter’s Prep [Jersey City, NJ] where the league we play in is very, very tough, one of the best in the country. And then last year, here, being first team All-Patriot League was pretty big for me.

Lehigh wide receiver Jorge Portorreal

YOUR PERFORMANCE AGAINST BUCKNELL LAST YEAR, THAT HAS TO RANK UP THERE.

That game was big for me. We were sort of in a downward trend and the team needed a spark. I was really happy to bring that to them and really amp us up and get us a W for that game. It was really exciting.

WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU MADE FIRST TEAM ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE AS A SOPHOMORE OR WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD ACCOMPLISH?

It was definitely something I felt like I could grab. It was one of the goals I put down prior to the season. When I received that accolade, I was actually really excited. It kind of felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, more like my hard work was paying off, I’m doing something right. It was more motivation to reach my next goal next year: be an All-American. I hit one of those goals that I wanted to hit while I was here for four years, and now I’m on to the next one.

YOU HAVE A NEW COACH THIS YEAR, TOM GILMORE. IS IT EXCITING WHEN YOU GET A NEW COACH OR SCARY? OR A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH?

In the beginning it’s pretty scary because you have no idea who is going to come in. In the back of your head you always have that, ‘Oh, hopefully we don’t get a bad coach.’ But I really like Coach Gilmore. All the players like Coach Gilmore, and we’re really excited about him and all the staff he has brought in. ... Everyone gets a fresh start. The thing I liked about it the most is that I had to showcase my skills again because I don’t have the same head coach, I don’t have the same receivers coach. I really had to showcase my skill set and really start from scratch. I actually enjoyed that. Sometimes you get complacent, and that really brought me out a little bit of really having to show myself again.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MENTOR?

Honestly, I have to give credit to three guys who graduated: Troy Pelletier, who was an All-American receiver here; my cousin went here, Quentin Jones; and Sasha Kelsey, who graduated last year. I lived with those guys in the summer and just watched the work ethic they had, and the commitment they had to the game, and then relating that to their life. They really centered everything around their life, about enhancing football, enhancing academics and really just bettering yourself as a person and putting all three of those together. Watching them do that was everything for me, I didn’t need a verbal communication from them. It was really all about seeing it firsthand.

Lehigh wide receiver Jorge Portorreal

WHAT WAS IT LIKE HAVING YOUR COUSIN ON THE TEAM AS A FRESHMAN?

It was really cool. He’s from Georgia, and I’m from New Jersey so our families are kind of spread out. For his senior year, when I was a freshman, his family would come up for every game and my family, because they were close, they would come. It was almost like a family reunion every game because our families don’t get to see each other that often. From that standpoint, it was really big for us. And then him just showing me the steps, putting down the blueprint for me to succeed here. I’m trying to follow that.

WHAT IS ONE FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW?

All my friends say that I’m pretty goofy. A lot of talking, a lot of chatter, funny jokes, stuff like that. If you know me, a lot of dancing.

DO YOU HAVE A NICKNAME? IS IT GOOFY?

No, definitely not goofy. If I had a nickname, it would probably be J.P. A lot of kids in high school used to call me J.P. Everyone here calls me Jorge for the most part.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LEHIGH FOOTBALL PROGRAM?

The best thing about the Lehigh football program is tradition. The tradition speaks for itself with Le-Laf. Many guys who play on the FCS level, they want the atmosphere of an FBS game or of an Alabama-Clemson. You want a lot of fans there. You might not get that most games here but the Le-Laf game, you definitely feel like you’re playing for a national championship, or something big like that. Not even just on the game day, but the entire week leading up to that, the atmosphere on campus is just unreal.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT LEHIGH AS A UNIVERSITY?

I just think balance, that’s really why I chose to come here. It sets you up academically and enhances your future, but at the same time getting to play Division I athletics is something many schools can’t offer.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Steve Boyle

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