Fans aren’t chanting his name just yet but that’s only because they don’t know who he is. TJ Lee, a defensive back out of Eastern Washington University is entering the 2014 NFL Draft with a chip on his shoulder. Coming out of one of the smaller schools in the NCAA, TJ has the heart and desire to end up as a household name. With more than a handful of players going to the NFL from Eastern Washington, TJ Lee looks to make a name for himself.
As a pre-season favorite to land on the All-American First team voted by Lindy’s Magazine and Football Gameplan, he was a second team choice for College Sports Madness and a Third team selection from Beyond Sports Network. On transitioning to the NFL, “Transitioning will be different, the environment and being in a totally different place. It is motivating and I need to have confidence in my ability to get it done and have a job and keep a job.”
As a senior at Eastern Washington University, TJ recorded 83 tackles and one interception in 15 games played compiling a record of 12 wins and 3 losses. After his final season, TJ was invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl where he was able to gain more experience and meet other players who will be accompanying him in the upcoming draft. “I’ve met some pretty great guys and they’re all great athletes. I’ve learned a lot from the coaches and the presentations are helpful as well.”
Coming out of High School as a “White Chip” player, meaning he was one of the top 100 prospects in Washington, TJ was selected to the Seattle Times Star Times” All-Area Team. Rushing for more than 1,413 yards and scoring over 21 touchdowns, he was named as an All-Metro League Special Teams MVP and a first team all-league defensive back. He was selected by the Associated Press as a 3A All-State honorable mention as a running back upon graduating from West Seattle High School in 2009. TJ has never looked back though always striving for his ultimate goal of playing in the NFL.
Having being taught and coached by Beau Baldwin and John Graham at Eastern Washington, TJ will be taking orders from a new coaching staff come next fall. TJ stated that the NFL will be at a much faster pace than at the collegiate level. “It’s at a faster pace and when you’re goin you’re goin. It’s at a fast tempo and it can hit you fast before you can even think about what you’re doing. The next thing you know the plays over.”
“His speech about change and how change is inevitable, you must learn how to change and go with change. Don’t be afraid to take chances on the field, don’t be afraid of failure. Failure will come and it will hit you.” TJ Lee is not the only standout to come out of Eastern Washington in the past several years. He will join fellow teammate Taiwan Jones in the NFL who now plays for the Oakland Raiders. On Taiwan Jones, “I think Taiwan Jones is the best running back I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of pro games and if you know Eastern Washington Football you know who Taiwan Jones is and just watching him at the pro level even though he hasn’t done much at the pro level, he’s still a great player and he’s still in the league.”
PPI’s Fire Five with TJ Lee
- Favorite Food?
TJ Lee: Beans, rice, cornbread and chicken. It’s something my mom made for me as a kid, I used to eat so much of it my mom had to rub my stomach after.
- Must have accessory?
TJ Lee: A hat. In Washington it’s cold, and before my friends were telling me you have to grow your hair out. I said well I’m going to California, I probably need to cut it or I get hot. So first thing I put on regardless, its habit is a hat.
- A nickname you have?
TJ Lee: It’s usually T, or TLee, or TLEE the 3rd. I’m the 3rd so some people just call me the 3rd.
- Favorite Superhero?
TJ Lee: Batman, I always grew up on Batman. I remember taking pictures as a kid and my mom always used to say you always wear your batman shoes for every picture regardless of your outfit.
- Follow TJ Lee at?
TJ Lee: @TLEE31 on Twitter or somehow you’ll find me. I won’t quit.
Theresa Villano and Evan Rossi Contributors, Interview by Theresa Villano
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