Lee brothers have success on and off the field
Having brothers for teammates is not as rare as it used to be, but for the Lee boys, it meant the world.
Jake, Nick and Sam Lee all play for the Augustana Vikings DII football squad, in Sioux Falls.
All three also represented the maroon and gold at Blue Earth Area High School. All three started this past year at Augie and all three were one of the best at their position.
Jake Lee, a 5-foot-11, 270-pound nose guard, had an outstanding junior season. He set career-highs in multiple categories, which earned him All-Conference honors in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).
Lee finished the season ranked fifth on the team with a career-high 44 tackles (16 solo, 28 assists), while racking up 11 tackles for loss from the nose guard position. The fifth-year junior posted a career-high four sacks on the season and forced two fumbles and recovered another. He also recorded at least one tackle in all 11 games this season, including a career-high 10 against Minnesota State, Mankato on Oct. 12.
Although the team finished 4-7, Jake and his brothers still found success.
“I am very humbled to be named All-Conference,” Jake says. “But, I couldn’t have done it without all the support of my coaches, friends and family.”
According to Lee, the Vikings recently changed the entire coaching staff. This was the first year under the new crew and it was challenging in the beginning.
“I almost felt like a freshman again,” Lee explained. “We all had to learn different schemes and adapt to how our new coaches wanted us to perform.”
In addition to Jake receiving credentials on the field, his brothers recently found out some honors awarded to them off the field as well. Nick and Sam both earned Academic All-Conference honors.
The brothers, who are the sons of Dr. William Lee and Donna and Paul Nawrocki, all live in the same house and Jake admits there really is no rivalry between them.
“I really could not have asked for anything better,” Lee explained. “It really is special for all of us to spend so much time on and off the field together during our college experience here at Augustana.”
Lee never really thought that he would end up in Sioux Falls. But, the small class size, the recent success of the football team over the years and having all the teachers be on a first-name- basis with the students really appealed to the Blue Earth native.
“I was the first one to be a Viking,” Lee says. “I chose Augustana over Southwest Minnesota State after graduating in 2009. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Having my brothers around makes everything feel like home.”
Last year Lee started all 11 games at defensive tackle. He led the team with seven tackles for loss and also contributed two sacks.
In 2011, Lee only appeared in three games; he was battling an injury all year. 2010 was Jake’s redshirt freshman season where he also appeared in all 11 games.
Lee was a three year starter at BEA. He was a captain his senior year and recorded 106 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. Lee was a two-time All-South Central Conference performer and was named SCC offensive lineman of the year in 2009. Adding to his list of achievements, Lee was a three-time all-area selection.
Lee’s brother Nick chose to take his talent to South Dakota State before he wound up at Augustana. He appeared in all 11 games and scored two touchdowns. However, Nick felt like he didn’t fit in, according to Jake.
“We opened our arms and let him know that there would always be a spot for him here at Augie,” Jake Lee says. “I’m really glad everything worked out the way it has.”
Nick was a 2010 BEA grad and caught 21 passes for 276 yards and eight touchdowns his senior year.
After his senior campaign, he was named All-Conference and all-area.
Nick was also a standout basketball player, scoring more than 1,000 career points for the Buccaneers.
With both of his older brothers at Augie, it might have seemed like a foregone conclusion that Sam, an offensive tackle, would follow, but he had some other options on the table.
“Sam had an offer to walk on with the Minnesota Gophers and a scholarship offer from the SDSU Jackrabbits,” Jake says. “We were glad he joined us instead.”
The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, eventually moved into the starting lineup as a true freshman. Sam is currently a sophomore. As a freshman he appeared in seven games and made five starts at right tackle, helping the Vikings offense total 445.7 yards a game.
Jake is currently finishing up his exercise science major. However, he is unclear on what he wants to do in the future.
“I’ve been discussing an opportunity that would allow me to come back as a graduate assistant and potentially help coach the football team,” Jake says. “But honestly, I haven’t thought much about life after football and college, yet.”
Despite the lack of success from the 2013 Vikings campaign, Jake believes the team will come back stronger and be more familiar with the new system next year.
“I have no regrets,” Jake explains. “We had a tough year, yes, but we grow from it and it was pretty handy to have my brothers there as my crutch.”