CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Senior linebacker Marquel Lee has led the Deacs in tackles for loss each of the last two seasons.
Now voted by his peers as a team captain, Lee fills the leadership void left by the graduation of Brandon Chubb.
Lee spoke about linebacker depth, winning close games and overcoming the perception others have about Wake Forest football in part one of this interview.
This is the final half of the interview session from the ACC Kickoff event last week.
On how he feels his body has transformed in the last couple years under strength and conditioning coach Brandon Hourigan
Lee: “It’s transformed tremendously. We have these pictures by our weight room stations, and I was a chubby kid at first. I had a gut on me. Now I’m chiseled up. Coach Hourigan has helped me tremendously, reaching new heights that I never thought I could reach, like 660 on my squat and 320 on my power clean. I was stuck on 290 for the longest, but him and our strength staff have helped and encouraged me.”
Is that something he talks about to recruits as they visit Wake?
Lee: “Yeah. All the time. I feel that high school strength is different than college strength. A guy could be strong, but with better technique, he could be much stronger. Power clean is a technique-driven lift, and we’ve focused on that a lot this past off season. Seeing the freshmen, like Paris Black, Elontae Bateman, up there cleaning with me is just incredible. Wow. I see where this program is going, and it’s on the rise.”
On his reaction when he first heard Jim Grobe was taking the Baylor job
Lee: “I’m happy for him. He gave me a shot when nobody else did. Wake was my only D-1 offer at the time, so I appreciate him. I’m happy for him and his family, and hope he does well.”
On if that’s a perfect spot for him, to go in and clean up that kind of a mess
Lee: “Yeah. Coach Grobe is all about being a good character guy. He’s a good character guy himself too, so he can set the example for whatever the situation is there right now.”
On if he considers himself one of the defensive leaders
Lee: “Yes, of course I would say that. This is my unit, and I’m taking it in stride. I appreciate the honors the team has bestowed upon me. It’s a challenge and I appreciate them putting the reins in my hands. I feel like I have good leadership qualities. We all want to go in the right direction, and we need to focus on details. When the season starts, you only get 12 shots, and you have to make those count.”
On the varying offenses they will face
Lee: “I respect those offense, but we have to focus on what we’re doing. It’s all about what we have to do. We have to come to work every week, be detail-oriented, play fast and generate turnovers. That’s what we focus on. That’s what we can control.”
On how it feels to be voted by your teammates as a captain
Lee: “It’s an honor and a blessing. I feel like I have to bring my game up, because they are looking at me and depending on me to lead them to ACC championships and bowl games. I put the onus on myself too. I have to go to work and be a great leader for these guys. I want these guys to follow me in the right direction.”
On the key to getting equal or better production from the defense in 2016 than in the last two seasons
Lee: “Generating more turnovers than we ever have, which will create an advantage for our offense. Will need to continue to be detail oriented and stay mentally tough. Times get hard in games, especially against difficult opponents, but we can play with anybody. We can push through so we can win those game we were in last year.”
On the top things they can do to try to generate more turnovers
Lee: “In the spring, (defensive coordinator) coach (Mike) Elko put a great emphasis on creating turnovers. We implemented a lot more turnover drills. If you didn’t generate turnovers, you’d have to do some up-downs after practice. That’s attacking the ball more in practice. Practice generates what happens in the game, so if we attack the ball, I feel like that will be good for us.”