Exclusive interview with Darron Lee

Property of Hillary Garza and used by permission for TheJetPress.com
Property of Hillary Garza and used by permission for TheJetPress.com /

The New York Jets used their first round pick of the 2016 NFL Draft on linebacker Darron Lee. Here’s an exclusive interview he had with The Jet Press.

There is no way this Ohioan couldn’t resist an opportunity to write about Lee, premier linebacker out of Ohio State and now a member of the New York Jets. And when I found out he would be at the Taste of NFL event, my eyes lit up in excitement with a chance to shake his hand. On the subway into the city, I reminisced of memories screaming so loud that the neighbors wondered what was going on while watching his 61-yard fumble return against Navy, helping them head to the 2014 Championship Game.

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Though Lee was injured that game, I had no doubt after that season that he and several other underestimated, mostly sophomore players, would no doubt make to the NFL.  In 2015, the Buckeyes, again as underdogs, defeated the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.  Lee was named the Defensive MVP of the game after he recorded seven tackles and two sacks. Advancing to the National Championship Game, he had 8 tackles and one pass breakup in the victory over Oregon.

The Buckeyes reminding the football world that not only do they have the best marching band but the best football team in the land.  Fast forward to draft day, is anyone really surprised twelve Buckeyes were drafted?  With the twentieth overall draft pick, the Jets picked the lightweight speed machine who will undoubtedly contribute in his rookie season.

The Jets have had one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, complimented by a strong secondary. But what has been missing from having a complete defense was a quality pass rushing edge linebacker and a linebacker with coverage ability.  The Jets found the solution, speculating Lee as the inside linebacker spot next to middle linebacker David Harris.

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Harris of course not being the sideline to sideline type, and, with Demario Davis no longer on the team, that leaves a perfect opportunity for Lee’s skill-set.

I can only imagine how productive he will be after gaining more experience.

With only two years of experience in college due to an injury (qualified for the draft as he was redshirted freshman year), mark my words he is a force to be reckoned with.

He does not give up, just like he did not give up on his dream of playing as a Buckeye.

As I arrived to the Metropolitan Pavilion, I was so nervous to shake an athlete’s hand whom I watched over the years. Although the event was trying to steer clear of questioning players, much like Lee, I refused to give up.  In a shaky and nervous voice, I made it through and got an interview with not only a Buckeye legend but a Jet legend in the making.

Here it is in its entirety:

HG: Mr. Lee, I am Hillary Garza of TheJetPress.com.  I was not only born a Buckeye fan, but I am cheering for you every step of the way. 

DL: I am not supposed to give out interviews, but I can answer a quick few questions for you.

HG: Let’s jump right into it, were you surprised the Jets picked you in the first round?

DL: I was just excited to be a Jet and welcomed in such a big city.  It was surreal to be scouted by the team and have them come to Ohio State to see my skills.  Drafting me shows that they acknowledge what I can bring to the table:

HG: As a mother, I can definitely relate to your mom who loves you dearly.  Very active on Twitter, and quick to shut down any negativity, which I love.  What has your mom helped you bring to the NFL?

DL: She taught me that people are always watching you.  You need to properly conduct yourself and never let everything get to your head.

HG: Ohio State reminds me of the Jets in many ways. Ohio was not favored, however brought home championships.  Can you bring the championship spirit into the defense of the Jets?

DL: I want to bring all the positive energy along with all I have to offer to the Jets! I will continue being a great teammate with my ability of bringing a lot more than speed.  I want to hunt the ball down and go make plays.

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HG: I just want to thank you for bringing me and my boys so many amazing memories during your tenure in Ohio.  I am anxious to see you bring new ones to MetLife Stadium and see just how fast you are in person.  Good Luck and thank you.

As I walked away, adrenaline still rushing through me, I felt excited to speculate on the Buckeye spirit that Lee possess. He is undoubtedly what the Jets need.  It is no secret the Jets are usually the underdog, and they need to channel the energy of players who were given the same label. At Ohio State, you had sophomores pull off a National Championship!  So, why not upset non-believers and win? I have no doubt even though Lee is a rookie, he is looking to continue the Ohio legacy in the pros.  And it would sure look good in Green and White.