An Academy Man

Division I programs from across the country took notice of Apalachee (GA) running back Jon Lee in 2009, as more than half-a-dozen FBS and FCS schools extended offers to the 5-foot-10 athlete. With Signing Day fast approaching, Lee has made no secret of his wish to attend a service academy, and recently returned from visits to Air Force and Navy. The only question now is which one will he choose?

There has never been any question that Jon Lee could play Division I football. At 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, he has the size and speed (timed in the sub 4.6 range in the 40-yard dash) that most school's covet from the running back position. Ranked as a 3-Star prospect by and the 143rd ranked running back by Inc., Lee finished his prestigious prep career with 3,626 yards on the ground and 35 rushing touchdowns. But to reduce his ability to even a lofty stat sheet would be a mistake, at least according to Lee's coach and Apalachee High School Offensive Coordinator Joel Miller.

"I can't say enough positive things about Jon Lee," said Miller, who helped coach the Wildcats 12-1 record this past season. "He was a three year starter for our team, and has been incredibly durable, never missing a play, due to injury. He is an all around back who can do everything."

Lee, who was named the Georgia 8AAAA Offensive Player of the Year, ran for 1470 yards and 17 scores in 2009, and was offered by a number of Division I FCS universities such as Georgia Southern, Illinois State and UT-Chattanooga. However, the talented all-purpose back has recently narrowed his list to the three service academies, all of which are still aggressively vying for his future services. Lee visited Colorado Springs earlier this January, and recently returned from a visit to Annapolis. He liked what he saw from the Midshipmen, who went 10-4 in 2009 with impressive wins over the likes of Notre Dame and Missouri.

"The visit [to the Naval Academy] was great," Lee told in a recent interview. "I loved the city of Annapolis. It was beautiful and the surrounding harbor made it really beautiful...I had a great time, and we got to explore all the facilities. They also told us basically what the navy has to offer."

Lee said that the Navy coaching staff gave him the impression that he could be an impact performer at Annapolis, and he further testified at being impressed by the close bond shared by Navy's players. Still, the Georgia running back was far from sold, and said he will hold off about making a decision on which service academy he will attend until he has visited all three. Lee is scheduled to visit West Point this weekend before making his decision sometime around Signing Day.

Miller, who has coached Lee for four years, said he is not surprised that Lee has narrowed his list of potential colleges to the service academies. A hard worker on and off the field, Miller said that Lee values the loyalty shown by the three school's throughout the recruiting process.

"I think the attention that the service academies have shown Jon is one of the big reasons that he is down to them," Miller said. "All three have been in contact with Jon for a long time. He also recognizes and has an appreciation for the education that you receive at an academy, and knows that he can have a long, successful, and rewarding career after football is over."

Lee's attitude was much the same. The 22nd All-Purpose back in the country according to, he said that, "I am very impressed with what the academies have to offer both educational wise and opportunity wise along with great at this point my top three are the three academies."

Lee's ability on the field is unquestionable, with the multi-faceted back showing great vision and cutback ability in his capacity to create plays from seemingly out of nowhere. ESPN Scouts Inc. has described his style of running as "creative in traffic," while also drawing attention to his ability to pick up yards after contact in both the passing and running game. His numerous highlight films own to this ability, but still don't tell the full story of a player who has helped the Apalachee program rise from relative obscurity to state heavyweight status. This according to Miller, who believes Lee has the mental and physical makeup to be successful at whichever service academy he chooses.

"Jon is a young man who has always wanted to be the best and has worked as hard as anyone to achieve the goals he set for himself and team," Miller said. "This season he led our team to our first ever region championship and a 12- 1 record. Entering into his freshman year, this program had never had a winning season, so his leadership and talent has turned around the entire program.

"He is very confident in his football abilities and will work hard to be successful on the field," added the Apalachee Offensive Coordinator.

Lee enjoyed his visit to Annapolis and is looking forward to his visit to West Point, but as of now he currently favors the Air Force Academy. While he says Navy's 10-4 season in 2009 was impressive, he currently favors the Falcons over the Mids, and says that Air Force's coaches have been giving him and other recruits the impression that the Falcons are gaining on the Midshipmen.

"I can definitely feel a change coming," said Lee, who declined to get into specifics about what Air Force's coaches have said in regards to regaining the competitive balance against Navy. Navy has defeated its service academy rival for seven straight seasons.

"The past records [of the service academies] don't really faze me," he continued. "It is what is in the present and future that I'm looking at and my decision will come off of which program I think has the best chance of continuing that tradition or has a chance to start a new one."

Which school will Lee pick? Check back next week as Lee reveals his final decision to! Top Stories