SE: Lee Learns From Early Experience

August 31, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart
  
If Elijah Lee was nervous in his first game as a Wildcat, he didn’t show it. 
  
Rather, as a true freshman playing before a sellout crowd, he shined. 
  
It was just over one year ago – K-State’s season opener on August 30, 2014 – when Lee was summoned to the field for the first time, and, in his inaugural play, a third down situation early in the first quarter, he made a sack. 
  
It would be the first of 4.5 sacks for the linebacker in 2014, marking the most by a true freshman in school history and the most among Big 12 freshmen last year. 
  
While Lee was primarily called upon as a rush end on passing downs last year, he’ll be looked at to play an even bigger role for the Cats as a sophomore.
  
“I feel some weight because this will be my first time playing linebacker and my first time starting,” said Lee. “In the jet package, the game would go on, third down would come and then I’d go in, but this year, I’ll have the opportunity to be in on the first play and on the first down.”
  
This year, the Wildcat linebackers are working to fill the positions of last year’s seniors in Jonathan Truman and Dakorey Johnson. The only returning linebacker with starting experience is junior Will Davis, while Charmeachealle Moore, also a junior, sat out almost the entire 2014 season with an injury. 
  
“I’m trying to fill the roles that Dakorey (Johnson) and Jonathan Truman left, that’s the biggest thing,” explained Lee. “So far, Will (Davis) has helped me the most, him and Mike Moore. They’ve been here the longest and they encourage us younger guys to keep working, keep working, and even if we do mess up, they tell us to keep our heads up.”
  
Though the up-and-coming linebackers may look mainly to Davis and Moore when it comes to advice, Lee has begun taking on a leadership role as well by sharing his experiences and leading by example.
  
“He’s the definition of the linebacker mentality: he’s a tough guy, he works hard and he gives it all he’s got all the time,” explained Davis of his young teammate. “He’s the perfect K-State player. He’s young, but he has a lot of leadership skills and we can see that in him even now. I think he has a great future ahead of him and I think you’ll see that on display this season.” 
  
Along with his 4.5 sacks, Lee totaled 19 tackles, a forced fumble and one pass breakup in his first year on the field. The 6-foot-3, 219 pound linebacker from Blue Springs, Missouri, brings both size and speed to this year’s linebacker corps and could be a key factor in its success.  
  
“(Our speed) will help us out a lot,” he said, “but we’re an assignment-sound team. So as long as we press our gaps and are in the right position, we can make opportunities for everyone to make plays.” 
  
An honorable mention for the 2014 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year award, Lee was among the conference’s best young players last season. He found quick success and broke records, but as he looks forward to this season, he’s not looking at numbers to beat or records to break. He’s a team player, a hard worker, and his main goal is simple: to continue earning his teammates’ trust through his play on the field.  
  
“I’ve grown a lot,” Lee explained. “When I first came into camp, I didn’t know where to line up or what I was doing. Now, I’m in the playbook, in the film, and I know what I’m doing. Last year I was nervous when I would go into games, and now I’m more confident. I know what it’s like to be in a big-time college game now, so my goal is to be a player that the team can depend on and that my brothers can trust whenever we go into a game.”
  
Last year it didn’t take Lee long to get a taste of playing in front of K-State’s passionate fans. After his first time on the field hearing the booming cheers for his first sack, he was hooked. It’s an atmosphere unlike any other, and, with the Wildcats’ first game of 2015 just five days away, it is an atmosphere he is eager to be in once again. 
  
“It’s just unbelievable,” Lee said about playing in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. “You don’t see many programs that have sellouts every single game. It’s a good family environment. You know everyone is here for you whether you’re winning or losing. I’m ready for this season – I can’t wait.” 
  
K-State kicks off its 2015 campaign at 6:10 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 5, as it is set to host South Dakota in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game will be shown world-wide on K-StateHD.TV beginning with “K-State Gameday” at 5:10 p.m., hosted by Brain Smoller and former K-State greats Ian Campbell and Nick Leckey.
  
All reserved seating for the first four home games is sold out as the Wildcats close in on a season sellout and run their consecutive sellout streak to 27 games. Only scattered single seats remain for the Baylor and West Virginia games, while general admission tickets are still available for the Iowa State game. Standing-room only tickets are still available for every home game in 2015 with the exception of the Baylor contest.
  
Fans who wish to purchase standing-room only tickets and the remaining available seats for the Baylor, Iowa State and West Virginia games can do so by contacting the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at www.k-statesports.com/tickets or 1-800-221-CATS.  
For other reserved seating options, fans are encouraged to visit Vivid Seats, the official ticket reseller of K-State Athletics. Fans can contact Vivid Seats at www.vividseats.com/k-state or by calling 1-866-848-8499.
   
Although reserved seating is sold out for a majority of the 2015 home games, visiting teams will have opportunities to return unused tickets up to a month prior to their visit. Stay tuned to www.k-statesports.com for information regarding returned ticket availability. All returned tickets will be sold at the full public rate and season ticket wait list accounts will have first opportunity to purchase.
    

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.