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9 DAYS TO 2016 KICKOFF: Elijah Lee

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In which BracketCat counts down the ninth day until the 2016 kickoff with a profile of linebacker Elijah Lee.

Clad in his Predator facemask, Elijah Lee took a huge step in his sophomore season. If he does the same this year, he will join the pantheon of the greatest K-State linebackers.
Clad in his Predator facemask, Elijah Lee took a huge step in his sophomore season. If he does the same this year, he will join the pantheon of the greatest K-State linebackers.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Goal No. 9: ELIMINATE MISTAKES. Don't beat yourself.

#9 Elijah Lee
True Junior
6-3 | 228
Blue Springs, Mo.

Bio

Position: Linebacker

Previous College: None

Projection: Starter

Status: On Scholarship

Elijah James Lee (b. Feb. 8, 1996) is a high-motor linebacker who made the transition from high school defensive end to All-Big 12 linebacker and will continue to remain a key part of the K-State defense as a junior in 2016.

Lee has earned 2016 preseason All-Big 12 honors from the media that regularly cover the league, in addition to Athlon, Lindy's, Phil Steele and Sporting News, after being named to the 2015 All-Big 12 second team by coaches.

He also is on the 2016 watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award.

Lee, who also earned 2015 preseason All-Big 12 honors from Athlon and Phil Steele, is part of the famed "Blue Springs Trio," along with Dalvin Warmack and the now-departed Kaleb Prewett. Lee chose K-State over interest from Iowa and Northern Illinois, along with Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, plus offers from Toledo and Wyoming.

He had a stellar debut in 2014, playing in all 13 games and totaling 19 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. In fact, he recorded the most sacks by a true freshman in K-State history and the second most among all freshmen in school history. His sack total was the most among all true freshmen in the Big 12 in 2014.

Lee started the season off with two sacks against Stephen F. Austin, becoming the first true freshman under head coach Bill Snyder to record two sacks in a game.

He also recorded sacks against Texas and Kansas, and half a sack at Iowa State. He registered a career-high four tackles against UTEP and was an honorable mention for Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Last season, Lee started all 13 games at weakside linebacker, leading the team with 80 tackles.

He became K-State’s first underclassman (freshman or sophomore) linebacker to earn first- or second-team All-Big 12 honors since College Football Hall of Famer Mark Simoneau in 1998.

Lee also was the first Wildcat underclassman to lead the team in tackles since 2008. He also finished second on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and third with five sacks.

He also showed his prowess in pass defense, recording three interceptions, the most by a K-State linebacker since 2002. Two of his picks came against TCU, the most in a game by a Wildcat linebacker since 2002.

Lee, who tied for eighth in the Big 12 last season in interceptions and 17th in sacks, set career highs in tackles (12), tackle for loss (three) and sacks (two) against Louisiana Tech.

He also reached double digits in tackles against Texas Tech with 11, including a 14-yard sack; recorded eight tackles in three games — Texas, Baylor and Kansas — and earned second-team Academic All-Big 12 honors.

Lee played for the Blue Springs High School Wildcats under head coach Kelly Donohoe. He is a two-time recipient of the Buck Buchanan Memorial Award, given to the best lineman or linebacker in the top two high school classes in Kansas or Missouri high school football in the Kansas City area, and only the second two-time winner of the award.

He was selected as the Missouri Football Coaches Association (MFCA) Class 6 Defensive Player of the Year, while he was a unanimous pick for the MFCA All-State squad in 2013. Lee also was named to the all-state first team by the Missouri media in 2013 and was selected to the American Family Insurance All-USA Missouri Team.

Named to the MaxPreps Junior All-American team in 2012, Lee also was a first-team all-state honoree by both the coaches and media as a junior, as well as a two-time Kansas City Star All-Metro honoree.

Lee was rated the 39th-best outside linebacker nationally by Scout.com and the 41st by Rivals.com.

He recorded 85 tackles, including 36 for loss and 12 sacks as a senior after collecting 71 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, and 18.5 sacks in 2012. He also participated in basketball, earning all-conference and all-district honors.