It's Thursday, but more importantly we have 44 days until kickoff and it's a PALINDROME!!!!, so today's profile is on No. 44, Darren Lee.
#44,, Senior, Linebacker
Weight: 230 lbs
High School: Lassen High School, Susanville, CA
How'd he get to The BlueTM?
Lee had the unique opportunity to be part of two Boise State recruiting classes, which meant double the hype and double the times Jeff Caves mentions your name in a Buffalo Wild Wings. Lee joined officially in the 2010 class before leaving to serve a two-year mission; upon returning - and upon all of us forgetting who he was - he was lumped in with the 2013 recruits, too.
Why did Boise State choose to recruit a player who would be on church-mandated layaway? Maybe it's because Lee was a multi-sport star at Lassen High (track and wrestling, plus football) and a strong two-way player. In his two years with the varsity, he recorded 141 tackles and rushed for over 1,300 rushing yards. As a senior, Lee was named first-team All-State for Division III and the Northern Athletic League Defensive Most Valuable Player. Boise State liked it, so they put a ring on it.
He's earned the privilege of carrying the hammer enough times with his special teams play; I'd say he's earned this nickname as well.
A younger version of actor Gregg Henry
3x Academic All-MWC selection. 2x Mountain West Scholar Athlete. Appeared in all 13 games as a junior in 2015, recording 20 tackles (2 for loss), 1 sack, and 1 INT. Appeared in all 14 games in 2014, recording 12 tackles. Played in all 13 games during in 2013, seeing action at linebacker and on special teams. Named to Fall 2013 Academic All-Mountain West team. Carried The Hammer™ against Oregon State in the 2013 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. Voted Northern Athletic League Defensive Most Valuable Player as a senior in 2010. Named first team all-conference as a junior in 2009.
By all accounts, Darren Lee is one of the nicest, most congenial, and biggest leaders on this Bronco team. He is also a bad, bad man. The drug that transforms Mr. Lee to Mr. Hyde appears to be special teams, as he takes great pride in being the hammer seeking out nails on the opponents' kick return teams. In fact, some of the biggest hits I recall seeing over the last few seasons have been compliments of Darren Lee, and much to my delight, the team most commonly on his "hit" list happens to be the BYU Cougars. I happened to be rather close to Lee as he destroyed a Coug in 2014 and captured this picture the moment after impact.
So, at the very least we know that Lee is going to be a special teams demon for the Broncos. Even if Martarano, Weaver, and Vallejo sponge up all the LB playing time and the tackles that come with it, you know you'll be seeing Lee busting wedges and heads on kickoff teams. Thing is, Lee has also shown himself to be a very capable backup LB and this spring looked rather dominant—with a scoop-and-score TD and a safety in the same scrimmage. The Bronco linebacking corps is already very deep and very talented and with so little drop-off from starter to backup, the Broncos will have fresh legs to really get after QBs and RBs alike. If Lee stays on the same trajectory he's been on the first few years of his career, I'd expect at least 30 tackles from him and several stints as hammer-bearer.
Is he on Twitter?
Discipline: The one thing necessary to achieve any goal worth having.— Darren Lee (@Darren_Lee44) February 1, 2016
Surprisingly, yes...but prolific? No.
Completely made up fact
Lee often takes the sledgehammer home to do handiwork around his house. Here's the aftermath of him using it to hang a picture frame.