INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Kenny Lee has a good friend that is “about 74-years old.”
Lee says that Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Louisville are recruiting him the hardest.
That friend tells the elder Lee that his son Brandon Lee, one of the nation's top outside linebacker prospects, that “Brandon’s been here before.”
Family, teachers, high school coaches and college recruiters alike tend to agree.
“Just the way he talks and thinks and the way he processes things,” Kenny said of his youngest child. “He doesn’t talk like a young kid today. He talks a little older.”
Recently hired Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central head coach Jed Richman sums it up like this.
“Without a doubt, one of the most mature student-athletes I’ve ever been around,” he said. “He’s a guy, he’s old beyond his years how he handles all this.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Lee’s plate got a little bigger on Wednesday evening as he added offers from Oregon and Cincinnati. The Ducks and Bearcats joined the likes of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, California, Michigan State, Missouri, N.C. State and Northwestern in extending a scholarship to the nation’s No. 24 outside linebacker according to the 247Composite.
From day one, Kenny Lee envisioned this type of success for Brandon.
“We nicknamed him Boss because he wasn’t playing,” the elder Lee laughed. “He just came into this world on his own without our permission. From that point on he’s been the boss.”
Lee won a state championship as a junior and is looking for a repeat next fall.
With three older sisters and an older brother, Kenny told his boys at a young age he wouldn’t be paying for their college tuition. He had a feeling he wouldn't have to. His prediction held true as Kenneth is a senior linebacker at Ball State and Brandon has a plethora of options to choose from.
“I felt both of my sons would play Division-I football,” Kenny said. An Indianapolis native himself, he played at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before transferring over to play fullback for the Jayhawks.
“I always knew they had the talent and ability to do it, and I told them they have to earn it because they have all the tools to do that. They’ve owned up to it and done it. The one thing about Brandon, he’s a self-motivator. Everything he does he does it on his own. I don’t have to encourage him or threaten him. He works as hard as he can every day. That’s his hobby, working hard. Never had to talk to him about homework. He gets that stuff done.”
Turn on one of Lee’s football videos from Lawrence Park in fifth grade and you can hear his father barking out instruction. He coached both boys until the seventh grade.
“When he gets on the football field he turns into a different person,” Kenny said. “Once you meet him he seems so humble and mild-mannered, but once he gets on the football field he turns into an animal.”
That was quickly evident Lee’s freshman year. He got promoted to the varsity and in a reserve role helped Lawrence Central advance to the state championship game. He emerged as a prospect to watch as a sophomore, registering 85 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Lee had a big junior year in a run to a state championship, making 81 tackles and scoring four defensive touchdowns.
“I didn’t expect the offers to be coming in like they are now and I’m thankful for it,” Lee said. “Thankful to my parents for raising me to be a good child as all the coaches tell me.”
Lee has had a chance to visit several schools, including multiple trips to Illinois, Indiana and Louisville. Over his spring break, him, his father and cousin got into the car, naturally turned on the oldies music, and went by the campuses at Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Northwestern.
This summer, Lee looks forward to getting back on the road and heading to all the Midwest schools that have offered for another look. They’ve also talked about a West Coast trip to see California, Oregon and Stanford.
Nowhere close to naming favorites or making a decision, Lee did indicate that Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Louisville are the programs recruiting him the hardest.
Illinois: “Coach (Tim) Beckman, I’ve spoken with him when I went on my visit there. Got a chance to sit down and speak to him. Coach (Tim) Banks and Coach (Mike) Ward are recruiting me mainly. I like Illinois. I feel they’re doing a lot of things differently and moving the program in the right direction.”
Indiana: “I was real close with Coach (Mike) Ekeler and he went onto USC and now I’m building back up a relationship with the new linebackers coach, Coach (William) Inge, and Coach Inge is trying his best to build a relationship with me and my parents as well. The whole staff I feel comfortable with because they send a lot of coaches through and they introduce you to a lot of coaches. When you visit you don’t just spend time with your position coach and coordinator, you talk to every single coach and they introduce themselves to you.”
Iowa: “When I took my visit there, most people think Iowa is going to be like a farm and they think it’s going to be cornfields. It’s not. It’s actually a good city. Speaking with Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and Coach (Eric) Johnson and Coach (Levar) Woods, and each of them take time to write you handwritten letters and take time to talk with you on the phone, I feel like they show the most interest and they were the first program to offer me.”
Louisville: “It’s really relaxed there. I like it because in Kentucky there is not a pro team. There are a lot of fans either for Louisville or Kentucky, and there are a lot of Louisville fans mainly. I like the staff a lot. You can be yourself around the staff and they’ll make you feel comfortable like you’re at home. Speaking with Coach (Charlie) Strong and Coach (Vance) Bedford is like speaking with a sibling of yours.”
With all the college attention he’s received, Lee wants to have an even bigger senior season.
“He has good energy,” Richman said. “His competiveness and his coachability. He’s very open to learning. As far as playing goes, he’s a playmaker. He did his job unselfishly. He’s a humble, unselfish young man and I’m proud to be his coach. Best compliment I can give him is I wish I had more than this year to coach him.”
Who coaches him next may be the biggest part of the decision process.
“My thing is the people, because we’ve visited a few schools and all them have money and all invest in their facilities and programs and things like that,” Kenny Lee said. “My number-one concern is I raised Brandon to be a certain type of young man and I need somebody, whoever to take over where I left off over the next four years and continue the process to help him be a better person in society and continue him on the path I set him on. I’m looking more for people I can trust with Brandon more than anything else.”