Rams' Lee signs with The Citadel
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 18, 2004 1:55 PM
SNOW HILL -- Greene Central graduate and 2003 Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference football player of the year, Montrell Lee, just needed some time to find a new home.
Distance from home kept the running back from signing a national letter of intent with the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Some larger Division I schools in state may have shied away because of his five-foot, eight-inch stature.
Along came The Citadel.
Lee recently received an athletic scholarship to attend the Division I-AA military academy in Charleston, SC. The Bulldogs, who finished 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the Southern Conference last season, have been interested in the fleet-footed back since seeing his highlight tape following the completion of Lee's senior season.
"The recruiting process is very fun, but also very frustrating," Lee said. "It was just hard to find a place that combined all the things I was looking for ... good education, the kind of football I wanted to play and not too far away from home.
"The Citadel had all of those things."
According to Greene Central coach Jim Bob Bryant, they were completely sold after seeing him perform at the Shrine Bowl Combine in late May.
At the combine, Lee had the fastest 40-yard dash of any running back, running a 4.37 and a 4.42. His 32-inch vertical leap and bench press of 215, 16 times were also the best among backs.
Sure, Lee racked up nearly 2,000 yards on the ground and scored 29 touchdowns in his senior year. Impressively, he posted those numbers performing at less than 100 percent due to a leg injury.
Lee hopes to study physical education and is strongly considering becoming a coach upon completion of his degree. Unlike most of the military academies, The Citadel does not require its students to commit to military service after graduation.
The son of Larry and Nisa Beamon, Lee played at the varsity level his sophomore and junior years under Spence Grantham in a power-I formation offense. This past year, Lee experienced the diversity of Bryant's spread attack and believes this will help him at the next level.
"Coach Grantham was more of a power, straight-ahead kind of coach. Coach Bryant had more a spread type offense," Lee said. "This year, I had to learn a new offense and I think it will help me play in different kind of offenses."
His numbers consistently increased through his career as he rushed for 798 yards as a sophomore and 1,103 yards as a junior. He had over 250 carries as a senior in his 2,000-yard campaign.
Lee clearly left a lasting legacy at Greene Central. From now on, the starting running back for the Rams will always wear Lee's number 20 to honor the standout. The number 20 has been retired at the junior varsity level.
"There are two running backs coming up next year competing for his jersey. They want to wear his jersey. They want to be Montrell Lee," Bryant said. "That's a great legacy he has left here on this program."
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