Unsung Tight End Closes on Successful Career

There are many ways to measure the efficiency of a tight end, and catching passes is only one of them. Nevertheless, media and fans alike will quickly praise talented receivers such as Zach Miller and Jamaal Lewis, before mentioning the performance of Lee Burghgraef in thr trenches. The humble senior has accepted that role from day one, and takes pride in doing the things that usually catches the eye of the coaches before it does those of the Sun Devil followers.

"I do all the little things, and people think that a tight end is only measured by how many catches and touchdowns he gets," said Lee Burghgraef. "I just think about how I helped the team get a touchdown with my blocking or pass protection. That's the joy I get - when someone scores." Nevertheless, the senior did actually get to record his first ever receiving touchdown last month in front of a sold-out Sun Devil stadium against USC. "That was an awesome moment," he admitted. "You can tell by my teammates who were in the dog pile with me celebrating, they knew it was a special moment for me with all the work I do. That was cool that they celebrated the way they did and gave me a big thanks."

The last five years in Burghgraef's life did go by in a flash. However, he was able to appreciate the various experiences along the way. "It actually does seem like yesterday," he reflected. "I remember playing the Turkey Bowl (the scout team's annual scrimmage) with Chad Christensen. It was fun. The five years definitely went by fast, and you have to take everything in and enjoy the ride from waking up at 6 AM to do conditioning in the summer to playing in the big games. You look back at all those memories and that's the part I'll probably miss the most."

In no particular order, the tight end listed his best memories in his maroon and gold tenure. "Being part of the ASU tradition, being able to contribute, getting my degree and meeting my girlfriend (smile). I've enjoyed the five years."

Reminiscing will take a backseat this week, as Burghgraef and his teammates prepare for their rivalry game. The tight end has seen the heated intensity of this contest for the last few years and has learned to appreciate the great meaning this game carries. "My freshman year when they danced on the Sparky (logo in midfield) I knew it was on since then," he commented. "Each year it's such a physical battle. On the field you really feel it and all you see are guys going hard after each other on every play. That's what the rivalry is all about and it doesn't get better than this one."

As one of the leaders of the team, what message is he prepared to give when it comes to controlling the emotions versus just cutting lose? "You allow the emotion to come out," he replied, "and eventually it will calm down a little bit and help you focus on preparing for the game and sticking to the game plan. That focus does eventually take over. Once you snap the ball it's all about football, but this game is always extra special."

Aside from the sentiments of playing his archrival, the tight end will be part of the Senior Day festivities this weekend. Burghgraef plans to use the excitement of that event as a motivator, and not a distraction. "It's always a big weekend because you have your family here for Thanksgiving," he said, "then you have the game, and then the banquet the day after the game. It's just a big weekend. It's gonna be emotional playing my last game at Sun Devil stadium, but I'll be able to control it and use it to my advantage."

His superior blocking abilities are not only apparent to his coaches, but potentially also to NFL scouts. Burghgraef takes a realistic approach to his prospects of playing on Sundays. "I'm gonna talk to the coaches and see if there's an opportunity for me to go to the next level," he explained. "If there is, I will go full-bore. If not, I'll find a job and live my life away from football. I'm sure something will work out for me if not right after football, in the next few years." He added that he could see himself in a sales position.

Lee Burghgraef gave a lot to the Sun Devils, but he appears to be very appreciative in everything he got in return. "I just look back and appreciate all the great times I had here," he stated. "I knew from day one that this was the right place for me. Hanging out with the guys and being part of ASU football has been awesome for me."

And his contributions to the maroon and gold were significant, even if they were seemingly unnoticed by some…

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