It seemed a long shot from the beginning, but when Fred Lee was invited to the Buffalo Bills' rookie tryout session Bulls fans were excited about his chances. A productive receiver who shined in late 2013 when #1 option Alex Neutz went down with an injury, Lee was getting a shot to work his way onto the highest stage.
And it wasn't that farfetched - Lee had shown flashes of playmaking ability while in Amherst:
Lee spend the first half of his senior season in the shadow of teammate Alex Neutz but when Neutz was injured against UMass the Chester South Carolina native stepped up and helped carry the Bulls to their second Bowl bid. Over the last six weeks of the season the Senior had 33 receptions and 3 touchdowns. During the Potato Bowl Lee had 4 receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown.
And in the NFL, just like any other job, all you need is an in.
When Fred was left off the Bills' 90-man roster (they elected to sign a small-school WR originally from Anchorage, AK by way of Oklahoma), I wondered if he would filter through and latch onto another team in time for the beginning of training camp, as BO has already done. It turns out that he has, but not in a lucrative opportunity with an NFL team.
Fred Lee is one of those rare players whose off-field work and identity is just as, if not more, extraordinary than the considerable skill:
Last year Lee spent his spring semester mentoring at-risk students at Starpoint middle school. He worked with youth of all ages, whether it was volunteering at day care centers, speaking at local schools, or reading to kids. Also in the community, Fred has spent time at the veteran's hospital volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, the Red Cross and with the Big Brother/Big Sister program. On campus, he has taken part in the Women's Football 101 day, UB Kid's Day activities.
Throw in a spot on the AllState AFCA Good Works team, and it almost feels like a chance to merely play football at the highest level wouldn't be enough to fully utilize all of Fred's considerable talents and gifts.
With that said, early rumblings on Twitter from Lee himself suggest an optimal solution, a position out west with the Wyoming Cowboys:
Taking a leap to better me. Excited for an opportunity to live a dream! West coast here goes nothing!
Edit: I can't believe I wrote this post without making the Zach Duval connection but, duh! Fred will be joining his former coach and helping Duval out with the Strength and Conditioning Program and will 'do a little bit of coaching.'
I haven't found any more news on this yet, but at first glance, I just have to say again: what would merge Fred's skills on the field and with young people better than a coaching position? It must be hard to move on from the NFL dream so quickly, but continuing his work in football and with young athletes seems so perfect for Lee that I can't help but smile at the opportunity.
If you're on Twitter and aren't already following him, Fred can be found at @LivingEnhanced. Congrats and best wishes to Fred and Go Bulls!
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