Lee Leads Florence to Historic Finish in 2016
Last season was groundbreaking for the Florence Eagles, as they flew where the program had never been before. They made it all the way to the 4A South state championship game.
It was special playoff run with wins over Northeast Jones, East Central and Purvis. At season’s end they had 12 wins. No team in the program had accomplished what the 2016 team had.
“Last season was the best year of my high school career,” Degerrick Lee told SES Mississippi. “Nobody thought Florence would be where they were in the season. I had fun with my teammates.”
“We had a good offensive line, which could open up holes. Brad(Dennis) was special. The whole team, offense and defense, just made it happen. Being a sophomore and starting, I couldn’t let my teammates down.”
In the first four games of the season Lee combined for 159 yards and three scores on the ground.
However, he would rush for at least 106 yards in each of the following 11 games. That includes four games with 200-plus yards, with a season-high 251 versus Northeast Jones in the first round.
For the season he totaled 2,273, 7.7 yards per carry, and 22 touchdowns on the ground.
Lee explained that plenty of hard work went into the special season that was in 2016.
“Coming to practice and paying attention,” Lee said when asked what helped the step up. “I had to hit the weight room harder. My coach and I had a talk. He told me to just put my trust in him and see where it went.”
It isn’t a surprise to those around him that he emerged early in his career. He’s had to grow up a bit earlier than most of his peers.
“Well not too many people know my daddy is dead. That plays a big role in me playing football and wanting to take care of my family. I have very good people in my life to motivate me,” He explained.
His father passed in a car crash when he was only 10 years old. A lesson his father taught him - “never give up” - kept him going in football, which he had began playing at six.
“I love the social aspect of the game itself and the life lessons,” Lee stated. “I fell in love with the game when I was on the little league and my team went to the championship.”
“My favorite memory was when we played at Southern Miss for the championship.”
Lee is considering attending a Fortius Project this year, which would allow him to meet many of his talented peers. That seems right up his alley, to get to socialize and compete with the best.
“It can make you better and allow you to see where you’re at,” He said.
He wants to improve in certain areas this offseason, but he also has a few ideas about areas of his game that would shine at Fortius.
“I’m still working on my 40 time,” Lee said. “Just being more disciplined and getting bigger, too.”
“My ability to gain yards after contact, and also my ability to pass block will shine. And my ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.”
When it comes to college and pro football, Lee says he prefers to watch the amateur game more.
“To me, colleges be more turnt than the NFL,” He said.
His favorite player to watch and emulate is former Alabama, and current Green Bay Packers, running back Eddie Lacey.
“I can relate to him, he’s a power back and I’m a power back. He runs players over and he’s disciplined,” Lee explained.
Although Lee won’t be running anyone over at the Fortius Project, he will get his chance next fall. He is sure to play a big role in Florence’s attempt to repeat a special season.
**Photo courtesy of Jared Thomas