KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If Saturday is any indication, Elijah Lee could be in for a breakout season at Kansas State.
The Blue Springs High School graduate, a two-time Examiner Defensive Player of the Year, racked up a game-high 10 1/2 tackles, as well as a sack and an interception returned for a touchdown for the Purple team in Saturday’s spring game at Sporting Park.
Lee spent time moving between outside linebacker and defensive end, where he shifted to on third-down plays.
Last season, Lee recorded 4 1/2 sacks, the most ever by a true freshman at K-State – almost all coming from his pass rushing spot on the end. Now, he is shifting to outside linebacker where he vying to take the role that Jonathan Truman held last year.
“That is my favorite thing to do,” Lee, whose sack consisted of two-hand touch during Saturday’s festivities, said of rushing the passer. “Just getting a feel for it and seeing how the real groove is instead of rushing off the edge. Getting a real feel of playing in the box was a big opportunity.
“This is something I need to take on. At the same time, I can’t let it go over my head or get too big-headed. I have to stay confident and keep pushing. The sky is the limit and I’m not there yet. I’m starting to get the feel for it (outside linebacker), so I’m starting to get better at it.”
Lee showcased that feel when he dropped back on a passing down and returned an interception for 18 yards in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound letterman had five tackles in the first half and added 5 1/2 more in the second half in addition to adding a sack, tackle for loss and the interception return.
The two-time Buck Buchanan Memorial Award recipient – given to the best linebacker or lineman in the Kansas City metro area – played in all 13 games last year. He recorded at least one tackle in nine of those games, including a season-high four against UTEP. Lee added three tackles against Texas, as well as three against UCLA in the Valero Alamo Bowl.