Most of you know most of the early story, but to recap Oxford OL Lance Lee signed with Ole Miss two signing periods ago, but did not qualify academically for enrollment.
Consequently, he had to sit out a season, gets his grades right and join the team in January of 2005. He re-signed in February, but was able to get a "free" spring training in.
Now, he has five years to play four.
"You never want to sit out, but it probably taught me a good lesson and helped me get my priorities straight," said the 6-5, 290-pounder. "It also allowed me to get in an extra spring. I'm a spring up on the rest of the freshmen, except WR Michael (Burnell) Wallace, who had the same situation I did."
The spring of 2005 showed Lance all he needed to know - for now.
"I was very rusty. Spring training helped knock the rust off. I also got tuned in on the pace of college football and what is expected," he continued. "This (college football) is a lot different from high school. The pace, the intensity, the competition, everything is up several notches. I'm glad I had a spring to learn."
Lee not only learned the physical demands, but also what is needed mentally.
"I can't stress how important the mental part of football is on this level. I came in here not having a clue, but now I know what to do," Lance, one of the most vocal players on the team in workouts, noted. "I had to almost start from scratch - even down to the stance techniques being taught by (OL) Coach (George) DeLeone. It feels good to at least have that much behind me."
After spring training, Lance dedicated himself to reaching his physical goals. He came up with aces.
"I'm stronger now. My power clean is up 30 pounds, my squat is up and my bench is up 20 pounds. I'm very proud of those numbers, but realize I have a lot more to do," Lance stated. "I have also worked hard on my flexibility and technique. I was a little stiff in spring, so I have to continue to work on that."
While Lee would "love" to play and contribute in 2005, and he will give his all toward that goal, he's realistic about his immediate future.
"I'd give anything to play this year, but the reality of what I need is probably a redshirt, which does not bother me at all," he assessed. "I weigh 290 now. Coach DeLeone wants me at 300, which is a realistic goal for August, but I still have a lot to learn.
"I need to learn the system backwards and forwards. Every little detail is critical when you are facing players as big and fast and strong as you are. It then boils down to technique. In high school, I could just line up and manhandle the opponents. That's not the case in college - you have to do things properly to gain an edge on every play.
"So my reality is that I will work hard this fall, support my team, play if needed, learn from the older players and try to progress. My reality is that next spring will be my time to shine."
While Lance is one of the OL "puppies" on the team, he's not bashful about being vocal with his teammates.
"That's just my nature. When I get between the lines, or in the weight room, I'm there to do my best and to add whatever I can to my teammates doing their best. I'm not a quiet football player," he smiled.
Lance Lee may or may not play this fall, but there's little doubt he will contribute to the success of the team, one way or the other.
"My time will come. I'm focusing on that, but I'm paying more attention to how the team does," Lance concluded.
Not a bad way to start a career.
Lee knows where he stands
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