Elijah Lee was hard to miss at Kansas State’s spring football game last month. The 6-foot-3 Blue Springs senior linebacker was the only person with an unmistakable flat top and a college-ready body watching from the sidelines.
His hair will be covered by a K-State football helmet next season, but Lee’s rapidly improving physique and talent may help him standout on the field.
“I want to come in and do some pass rushing and help on defense as much as I can,” Lee said. “They want me to be like Justin Tuggle. They don’t have a guy who can rush the passer and play linebacker at the same time. That’s what I could turn into it.”
Tuggle excelled as a linebacker/stand-up defensive end two years ago after switching from quarterback to defense as a senior. Charmeachealle Moore took over that position as a third-down specialist last season, but he may be in line for more regular work this season. That leaves an opening for Lee to play as a freshman.
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Lee hopes to see the field immediately, and he has been pushing himself in the weight room so he will be ready for the opportunity.
When Lee committed to K-State before his senior season at Blue Springs, he weighed nearly 200 pounds and could bench press 290 pounds. He said he now weighs 215 pounds, and he can bench press 345 pounds. As a light workout, he regularly does 300 push-ups “with probably two or three breaks” mixed in before going to sleep.
“What he does in the weight room is ridiculous,” said Blue Springs running back Dalvin Warmack, who will join Lee at K-State next season.
Lee can’t wait to see how much muscle he can add after he moves to Manhattan on June 1 and joins K-State’s meal plan.
“I have went pretty hard so I can be big enough to pass rush and stay balanced as a linebacker,” Lee said. “I need to be versatile, so I can still tackle people and have that athletic body from high school. But everyone is athletic in college football. You have to work if you want to stand out.”
Lee is a three-star recruit and the nation’s 41st ranked linebacker in the 2014 recruiting class, according to Rivals. He had two 20-tackle games as a senior, helping Blue Springs win a state championship.
He chose K-State early, and stuck with the Wildcats despite attempts from Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri to steal him away. He said he was also recruited as a basketball player, hearing from “a few small schools and Yale,” before he focused solely on football.
Lee has been waiting to join K-State’s roster for more than a year. He can’t wait to start his college football career, whatever his freshman season holds.
“Everyone gets tired of high school, and they are ready to get onto the next level,” Lee said. “I want to be at K-State, playing for bowl games and taking my talent to the next level. I am just going to go through the process and see where that takes me. I will have a chance to step in on third-and-long and rush the passer. It all comes down to how much I want it this summer.”