DONALD LEE: BIG PLAY ABILITY

Sometimes in college sports, especially football, we get caught up in the hype and show. We like the players who make the big play, the ones who strike the best pose when they score, the ones that try to help themselves more than trying to help the team. Often times it is the little intangibles that helps a team win games. One man on the Mississippi State football team with these intangibles is junior tight end Donald Lee. Lee is the complete package when it comes to the tight end position.

Back in May, Assistant Coach Terry Lewis compared Lee to tight end Alge Crumpler, the 35th pick overall in the NFL draft last year. Lewis said, "A lot of tight ends can either catch or block; very few can do both. This guy (Lee) has the ability to be a dominant force in both areas."

Lee has done nothing to disprove that statement. For the year he has caught 11 passes for 101 total yards, and average of 9.2 yards per catch. Lee has also been a stalwart on the offensive line with his solid blocking. Unlike most teams who have to sub in a different tight end for each situation, the MSU coaches can feel confident that Lee will get the job done.

"Coach Lewis said we had a lot of the same kind of skills but he thought I was more talented than Crumpler," Lee said. "I watch film on Crumpler to learn what he does so hopefully I can be in his shoes one day in the NFL."

Lee certainly has all the tools that cannot always be found in a tight end. At 6-4, 250 pounds he is a big target for quarterbacks, but also a formidable blocker for defensive linemen.

Lee said, "That's one of the main things of a tight end. Sometimes you have a 250 pound guy that can block but just can't catch. Other times you have a 230 pound guy that can catch but can't block. I feel like I'm really blessed with the talent to do both of those."

Donald fell under the tutelage of Coach Lewis at the beginning of this year, and says it has worked out for the best. "I really feel blessed to have a coach like Coach Lewis," Lee said. "He's big on blocking and I think that is one of the main keys to helping me get to the next level. With catching it is like second nature. I have good hands and I like running the routes. I just like the whole nine yards."

Even with all the talent that he has, Lee does not care about his personal stats, he just wants the team to win. "Right now I'm really just doing whatever I can to help the team win. If the coaches want me to block I don't mind. If it is catching passes or whatever I have to do I will do it."

It's obvious Lee cares a lot about this team, and that goes back to when he first came to State.

Lee said, "I was real excited to be able to come here. Once I got here I liked it a lot. I enjoyed all the coaches and seemed to fit in good with the team. I got a lot of experience playing as a true freshman. My career here has been great fun for me and I've just really enjoyed being here."

While Lee might best be remembered by the fans for his game tying touchdown against Texas A&M in last year's Independence Bowl, he said his most memorable moment came early in his career.

"That would have to be the Ole Miss game my freshman year," said Lee when asked to pick out a highlight of his career. "That was my first touchdown catch in college. It was very exciting for me and also very exciting for everyone back home."

Getting the chance to play since he arrived at MSU has definitely benefited Lee. He has had a lot of time to improve on his game and get to where he is today.

Lee said, "Experience-wise coming in as a freshman and getting a lot of playing time you see that there is a big difference from high school. The players here are stronger and faster so I had to make a quick adjustment. I began working out harder and spending more time in the film room. I really thank the coaches for giving me an opportunity to prove myself."

Donald Lee is a perfect example of how staying focused and working hard can lead to big things. When Lee came to State there were nine tight ends and he was listed number eight out of those nine. He said, "I just kept working harder and harder and I got up to number two. I did not know I was going to get that much playing time but every time they asked me to do something I worked hard and they just left me out there during the game."

Lee is one of the genuinely nice guys on the team. He is a focused player who has done nothing but earn the success that he has gotten. His talent and ability can be attributed to the time and effort he has put in throughout his career. No matter how bad the team may be doing, number 84 is out there doing all that he can each day to make a difference.


Hank Allen Hank Allen is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. Hank is a student at Mississippi State University. He is also a reporter for the student newspaper, The Reflector. You can contact him by email at jha1@msstate.edu.


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