Former Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee could have taken his time. Enrolled at Tulane for the rest of the semester, a decision on his football future didn’t need to happen as early as it did.
But when you know – you know.
Lee thought waiting any longer wasn’t necessary. It’s the reason he committed to the University of Nebraska last Saturday.
“I think after hearing from different schools, I think it was clear-cut that it was my best opportunity,” said Lee. “I didn’t want to have coaches worried about it and wondering how their scholarship picture looked.
“I’m really blessed to come in and have a chance to play at a great football program this late in my career. It’s up to me to come in and work, and to win the job. I put that on myself. I’m really looking forward to it.”
One of the biggest factors in his decision – a supper with head coach Mike Riley just a few days after leaving Lincoln on an official visit.
“I think it meant a lot to me and especially my family for him to come all the way down to Louisiana and have dinner with us,” said Lee. “My dad did steaks and my mom asked a lot of questions – I think it meant a lot to them. It let them feel comfortable with Coach Riley. It really reiterated he’s an awesome guy and showed me that I’m comfortable playing for and winning games for him.”
Lee will be a redshirt junior in 2016. He will have to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules, but hopes to have two full playing seasons at Nebraska down the road (applying for injury waiver). It might just be one. But don’t call Lee an insurance policy for incoming signee Patrick O’Brien. Lee has bigger goals.
A 19-game starter at Tulane, the quarterback threw 23 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two seasons as a starter. His team only went 3-9 in 2015, but the talent across the board wasn’t that of a Nebraska.
“I think competition makes everyone better. I’m no stranger to that either. Coming into Tulane, I had to compete with Nick Monanta for the starting spot,” said Lee. “As long as it’s healthy competition, you make each other better. He had college experience and I was able to pick his brain.
“I don’t think there is going to be any animosity between me and Pat. I’m looking forward to helping him out. I have been through a lot of football games, a lot of different scenarios. There are a lot of things that can’t be learned without experience. I think it will be a healthy competition. I’m looking to come in and win a starting spot.”
The Louisiana native was asked about his current relationship with Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams, who just signed an extension to keep him on staff through 2017. Williams was on Tulane’s staff during Lee’s redshirt freshman season.
“It’s great to have some continuity,” said Lee. “We had a great relationship at Tulane. I think he knew more than anyone else knew my skill-set and what I’m capable of. I appreciated him putting in a good word. He really just let me form a great relationship with Coach Riley and Coach (Danny) Langsdorf. He really let all of us feel each other out.
“I had a great weekend with Coach Langsdorf on my visit. We spent the whole time together. We watched some film and just talked football. It was great to see what they are doing. It couldn’t have gone better. It’s the same concepts, just a different terminology. I’m really comfortable in the pro-set.”