We all love to see LeGarrette Blount hurdle defenders, Mike Williams leap over the entire secondary and watch Josh Freeman’s air attack. However, none of that is possible without a solid front. When Jeremy Trueblood went down in week seven, third year player James Lee stepped in at right tackle — and never stepped out.
Lee, 25, was born in Belle Glade, Florida. He attended storied Glades Central High School. The same area that has the “muck bowl” between Glades Central and Pahokee has produced NFL talent like clockwork. Fred Taylor, Santionio Holmes, Reidel Anthony, and 22 other NFL players have come out of Glades Central.
“It’s a lot on your shoulders [playing football at Glades Central] to perform,” Lee said. “So many guys come from one city and make it to the league. It’s setting a platform for the kids that are there now. Football is our way to get out of Belle Glade.”
Lee and the other four starters on the offensive line may have had the best season in Tampa history. They ranked second on Cold Hard Football Fact’s offensive hog index behind no other than the New England Patriots and helped Tampa average 4.64 yards per attempt running the ball.
Lee was thrust into the action, following the injury to Trueblood, playing next Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph.
“Playing next to him [Joseph] is a plus, Davin is well experienced he sees things faster than I do,” Lee said. “He helps me out a lot. He talks to me. We have great communication. …He sets an example for all of us no matter what what we’re doing.”
When you think of offensive linemen you typically think of strength, but Lee is different. “I rely a lot more on my athleticism,” he said.
Don’t let that fool you, though. Lee maxed out in the bench press last in college at 465 pounds and squats more than 675 pounds. However, Lee doesn’t claim to be the strongest member of the line, he gives that title to Jeremy Zuttah out of Rutgers.
Once training camp starts Lee will be mostly likely going up against Da’Quan Bowers out of Clemson, the Bucs’ second round pick.
When asked if he would give him any advice Lee joked “Why would I give him advice? he’s going to have to work to beat me. And it wont be easy.”
With many great defensive linemen in the NFL, Lee said the toughest one he has faced was Haloti Ngata of Baltimore. Ngata had his toughest game of the season against Lee. He was unable to reach Freeman and finished with just one solo tackle.
James Lee isn’t all football though. Last weekend was his first weekend spent in Florida since the second week of May. Lee is an avid traveler, most notably going to the Australian Outback this off-season.
“I Went to Sydney, Australia, this off-season. The culture was awesome,” Lee said. “I got to see the Aborigines, tasted kangaroo, got to see koalas and venture into the outback. It was a great experience, completely different than the states.”
Lee also enjoys video games, most notably the Madden NFL football franchise.
“I play as the Bucs [when I play Madden]. I switch it up every now and then though. I like Philly too,” Lee added.”…I’d like to be rated pretty high [in Madden this season] but I won’t predict too high, I just hope it’s good.”
He also has a charitable organization, the James Lee Child Foundation.
“We’re trying to help the youth back in Belle Glade. We just put on a free football camp for kids from the ages of seven-to-17. They could come out and go through drills with NFL players. We played a 7-on-7 game at the end and the winning team got an autographed football from the various NFL players there,” Lee said.
“I’m now working on getting kids ready for school back home. Getting them haircuts and school supplies to get them motivated. I want them to get a good start. I also adopt a few families around Christmas. They’re are a lot of people hurting out there and we supply them with food and gifts for the kids to help brighten their holiday.”
Lee is currently working on getting the James Lee Child Foundation to Tampa as well. “Because of the hype of the one I did in Belle Glade. I’ve got people calling me now asking how we can get it to Tampa.”