Here at the Empire, we love having a chance to catch up with future Buckeyes.
This week, we connected with a great one: Darron Lee. The 6-2/205 athlete out of New Albany, OH committed to the Buckeyes on June 26th. As it turns out, his journey to Ohio State started much earlier than that.
Here’s a quick refresher course on Darron and why he’s one of our favorite commitments of the year. Simply put, he earned his way onto the team. After coming home from an Ohio State Saturday camp without an offer, he voluntarily returned two weeks later (a unique decision that seriously paid off). His commitment, competitiveness and performance were so impressive to the coaching staff that they gave him what he was looking for: a chance to become a Buckeye. As soon as he heard the news, he pulled the trigger.
Based on the conversation we had with him, it looks like both parties made the right decision. Darron gets to play for the Buckeyes and the Buckeyes get a talented, committed defensive player.
Buckeye Empire: Much has been written about your lifelong Ohio State fandom. Tell us exactly what the Buckeyes meant to you growing up.
Darron Lee: Wouldn’t call it much of lifelong fandom, but more of me having a large curiosity about them. Growing up, I always heard about them. Always watched the Ohio State-Michigan games every year and played with OSU on NCAA all the time. Then moving to Ohio was a plus, they were right down the street and they grew on me and I fell in love with ’em.
BE: What Buckeye, present or past, would you compare yourself to on the field?
Darron: A Mix of Malcolm Jenkins and Mike Doss. Still working on my cover game as well as hitting.
BE: Your recruiting process was different from most. You had offers from many excellent programs, but didn’t hesitate to commit to Ohio State when the offer came in. Can you give us an insider’s view of what you went through over the past months and years?
Darron: Patience. That’s the best way to describe it all. But during that time of being patient I was basically getting an idea of where I wanted to be and where I felt the most comfortable. I had been around OSU so much and I began to get comfortable with them. After I got comfortable it was all a matter of patience until the offer came. Once it did, I had made up my mind and I pulled the trigger to become a Buckeye.
BE: Tell us about the conversation you had with the coaching staff when you committed. How did they react?
Darron: They were pretty excited. They already knew I would commit if I received the offer so they weren’t too shocked but they were pretty happy. Shoutout to Coach Pantoni and the whole Defensive staff!!
BE: Let’s back up a little bit. What went in to your decision to return to Ohio State’s camp on the weekend of June 23rd, so soon after your last trip?
Darron: It was a statement towards not only the coaches but to the Midwest and to the Nation. Basically my message was, “I’m a competitor, I’m hungry, I want to be here, and I want to be the best, not in someone else’s shadow. I want to carry my own spotlight and I will work my tail off until I do and that hard work eventually pays off (like it did that Tuesday I got that offer).” Yes, I was still working for the offer but I had more of a competitive message to send.
BE: You’ve played many positions in high school. You did the same at Ohio State’s camp. Do you have any idea or preference about where you’ll be playing in Columbus?
Darron: Defense. I prefer that side . They feel that I can make plays on the defensive side of the ball and I feel that way also so that will probably be my home.
BE: You know that Urban Meyer will be your coach in a year. Describe that feeling.
Darron: It’s pretty cool I guess. He’s a great coach and competitor and has the perfect agenda (win a title).
BE: How does your family feel about your decision to commit to the Buckeyes? Are they Ohio State fans?
Darron: Family is really excited for me. I’m the first one in the family to have the opportunity to play college sports. Most of my fam is from Cincy so there is a little bit of Bearcat blood in them but not in me.
BE: Are there any current players or recruits who you’ve been able to bond with?
Darron: Well I’m still working on bonding with my class, but from that group its just been Cam and Jayme. But I think when some of them come down we will all chill and hang out and stuff.
BE: What are your next steps? Do you have any football-related plans for the summer? Anything else?
Darron: Still working on my footwork. That’s one thing I want to have down before I arrive on campus. I like locking people down. People say that since I’m pretty big, I have lazy feet and can’t cover. I just wanna prove them wrong….again.
BE: What can we expect from your senior season at New Albany? Do you have any team or individual goals now that you’ve got the future figured out?
Darron: Expect a nice season from the team. We as a team have been working our tails off and you will see the final product week 1. All I can say is we are working hard and our goals are the same. Win the League and Make the Playoffs.
BE: Two words: Michigan Wolverines. Go.
Darron: Three words: I hate them.