Darron Lee Went From High School Quarterback to Starting Linebacker at Ohio State

By Tim Shoemaker on October 31, 2014 at 1:15 pm
Darron Lee has emerged as a playmaker.

When you talk to Darron Lee away from the football field, away from his sanctuary, he's a calm, well-spoken, humble guy who could almost be described as laid back.

On the field, though? Different story.

Lee is one of the more animated players on Ohio State's team when he's between the lines. During pre-game warmups you can often find him hooting and hollering with his teammates, bouncing up and down trying to do anything he can to fire up the Buckeyes before they play a game.

He's also turned into one of the top playmakers on Ohio State's defense. But that's not something head coach Urban Meyer always envisioned.

"You take a kid like Darron Lee — and that’s where Luke (Fickell) did such a great job recruiting him because I didn’t see it. But it’s not my job to see it, it’s his job to see it," Meyer said Thursday on his call-in radio show. "He came to camp like three or four times. Here’s a quarterback from New Albany and it’s how do you — that’s where I give Coach Fickell a lot of credit because he did a great job, man."

Lee was a quarterback at New Albany High School where he led his team to an appearance in the state semifinals as a senior. In high school football, often times teams will put their best player at quarterback and that was the case with Lee, according to Meyer.

But for Ohio State, he's playing outside linebacker. From that spot, Lee ranks fifth on the team with 31 tackles this season. He's also second on the Buckeyes in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (3.5) trailing only All-American candidate Joey Bosa in both categories. 

When Lee comes off the edge to rush the passer, he looks as if he's shot out of a cannon.

“He’s an athlete. He’s a sub-4.5 guy," Meyer said. "He plays with energy, emotion."

After redshirting last year as a true freshman, and after coming to Ohio State without a true position, Lee seems to have found a home at outside linebacker.

But ask him about his individual success, he'll often deflect it for the betterment of the team.

“If the offense can’t convert on some stuff, we’ve gotta go out there and stop them. That’s our job," Lee said following a 31-24 win over Penn State. "That’s what Coach Meyer reiterates to us is to stop them and that’s our job."

The good thing for Ohio State fans and the scary thing for other Big Ten offenses is Lee may only be scratching the surface. He's just two years into learning a new position. To Meyer, Lee's potential is unlimited.

"You talk about a future, it’s ridiculous what that kid’s gonna be like if he continues to get better," he said.

Two years ago, Lee was a starting quarterback and safety in high school. Now, he's a starting linebacker at Ohio State.

"He’s gonna be an NFL player someday if he keeps going," Meyer said. "Think about the confidence in yourself as a recruiter and an evaluator to saying, ‘You know what, I’m gonna take this kid and make something of him.’

Turns out, Fickell made the right decision.

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