As a freshman, Greg Lee saw little playing time at the University of Pittsburgh. However, Lee watched and learned from one of the best to ever play wide receiver at the college level, Larry Fitzgerald.
I learned a lot of my skills from Larry as far as using my body and shielding defenders off to catch the ball, Lee said.
Lee capitalized on his limited playing time his freshman year, grabbing 10 catches for 211 yards that season. He knew the departure of Fitzgerald to the NFL would equate to a special opportunity for him during his sophomore season at Pittsburgh in 2004.
I knew if I was given the opportunity my sophomore year I could make a lot of plays and get a lot of yards, he said.
And make a lot of plays and get a lot of yards he did. Lee was among the top receivers in the nation his sophomore year, compiling 68 catches, 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns. He helped guide the Panthers to an 8-4 record and Big East title in 2004.
Following the 2004 season, high profile alumni and ex-Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt took over the Pittsburgh coaching job for the departed Walt Harris. When Wannstedt hired ex-Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh to run Pittsburghs offense, Lee knew a change was in store.
When I heard we were getting him (Cavanaugh) I looked up the stats from his last season in Baltimore and his number one receiver only had 544 yards the entire season. I looked at that and knew it was more of a run based offense and there was a possibility he would implement that offense here, Lee said.
Lee was right. The Panthers threw 70 less times for 712 less yards than the season before. Inevitably, Lees numbers suffered a drop off.
It was kind of frustrating at the beginning. I was planning on having a better year than my sophomore season and at the beginning of the year we really werent throwing the ball that much. We werent winning any games; we lost our first three games, he said.
Despite the Panthers commitment to the run, Lee had a solid junior season with 49 catches, 962 yards and 7 touchdowns. Lee still made his patented big plays and averaged 19.6 yards per catch, up from 19.1 in 2004. After the 2005 season, Lee made a decision to take his big-play ability to the big stage and declared eligible for the 2006 NFL draft.
I knew at the beginning of the season (2005) that would be a possibility for me. At the end of the season, I really took a look at this year's receiving draft class and realized it wasnt as strong as the prior year. Also, personally I was ready to go on and take it to the next level, Lee said.
Lees good size, ability to make tough catches over the middle and big play ability should make him a steal in the fourth round, where the NFL projected him to be drafted. Additionally, his easy-going demeanor and work ethic could prove to be contagious in an NFL locker room.
Im a laid back kind of person, one that you wont have to worry about any off the field trouble. Im a player that plays the game with a passion, really likes to have a lot of fun and I like to generate that kind of energy in other people as well, he said.
When he's not at the University of Pittsburgh, Greg Lee lives at home in Tampa, Florida with his father and stepmother. Two of his three brothers, ages 16 and 17, play wide receiver as well.