PHOENIX — Fans of the UGA football program are certainly familiar with the name “Lee.” Dallas Lee was a four-year letterman and three-year starter for the Bulldogs before graduating in 2014. His parents and grandparents have been longtime football season-ticket holders.
And those who follow recruiting closely can also tell you about the Lee family member Georgia didn’t get.
Despite his older brother being a team member, the Bulldogs were unable to convince linebacker Dillon Lee to follow him to Athens. The former 4-star prospect out of Buford instead chose to go to Alabama And, for a good little while, he wasn’t heard from a lot outside of the Crimson Tide’s circles.
But there’s a lot of people talking about Dillon Lee now. Now a fifth-year senior, Lee plays both outside and inside linebacker for Alabama. And while he’s only a part-time starter, he has made quite an impact for the Tide.
In the 38-0 semifinal win over Michigan State, the 6-foot-4, 242-pound Lee drew attention not only for his sensational one-handed interception that preserved the shutout, but also for the near fisticuffs he came to with teammate Eddie Jackson shortly beforehand.
Apparently, it was because Jackson, a junior defensive back, was starting to relax on defense when Lee and a lot of the other Bama defenders were fiercely focused on preserving the shutout.
“We got in a disagreement about keeping our shutout and not letting them drive down and score late in the game,” Lee told reporters afterward.
As for the interception, he said: “We didn’t want them to score, and we were playing cover five, and I saw them start to scramble and I ran with my man and flipped my hips and got in position to go up and make a play on the ball.”
The Bama sidelined erupted and Lee was mobbed by his Tide teammates on the field after the play.
Kirby Smart was instrumental in leading Lee to Alabama and away from his deep family ties to Georgia. For that and other reasons the two are exceptionally close.
Lee has endeared himself to Smart in part because he is asked to play a somewhat specialized role for the Crimson Tide that has prevented him from being a regular starter.
“Dillon plays based on the personnel grouping of the team against us ,” Smart said in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. “Obviously, when we play big, physical running teams, he’s a big, physical guy, so he plays a little more often against that. In our sub-defense, nickel and dime packages, he’s a backup player behind Reggie (Ragland) a lot of the time, so he doesn’t play as often.”
Lee probably could’ve started and might’ve starred for Georgia had he decided to follow his brother’s path. As it was, he played a lot of special teams and played regularly but moderately on defense. Heading into Monday’s national championship tilt, Lee has 24 tackles, 1 sack and 2 interceptions for the season, 65 tackles and 3 interceptions for his career.
“He’s grown as a player and he’s really smart,” Smart said. “He’s one of the few players on our team who can play two positions. He’s plays outside ‘backer and inside ‘backer. That’s really a tough deal. There’s one week he’ll be all outside and the next week he jumps back in with the kids who have been all inside and has to catch back up. But it shows his ability to learn and he’s grown as a player and done a great job and gives maximum effort every day.”
And how about the pick by Dillon Lee!! https://t.co/mRRJU7u656
— West Coast Tide Fans (@WCTideFans) January 2, 2016