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Doubted out of high school, Darron Lee made the plays Ohio State needed to take down Alabama
By James Vogel

NEW ORLEANS — Darron Lee stood in a semicircle of reporters grinning that big, toothy Darron Lee smile Ohio State fans have come to know and love.

He gladly flashed that smile two days earlier on the field of the Superdome as he took part in Media Day at the Sugar Bowl, proclaiming tongue-in-cheek about how he and his Buckeye teammates proved all the doubters wrong three weeks earlier in a 59-0 drubbing of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game with their third-string quarterback.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Lee had another reason to smile in such a way as to brag humbly about his Ohio State team, because after all, it had just dethroned top-ranked Alabama 42-35 in the first ever College Football Playoff to move onto the National Championship Game.

“Somebody’s gotta do their homework,” Lee said with a slight droll in his tone, dragging out the final word in the sentence to give it more significance like only he can. “I was telling Josh (Perry) today, ‘You know, I don’t think they’ve been doing their homework. Everybody else has SEC bias crap or whatever, but honestly. Do your homework.’”

On a banner day in the Big Ten where the Buckeyes beat Alabama, Michigan State came back to shock Baylor and Wisconsin toasted Auburn in overtime, Lee represented a conference that has been doubted and overlooked for many years.

After all, this is a kid that was recruited as an athlete out of New Albany High School, a guy who played quarterback in high school and wasn’t getting much love in the recruiting ranks prior to his senior year.

“Darron is an energy guy, he’s one of those guys that will do what it takes,” Perry said. “He’s a big play kinda guy, too, which is really amazing so we’re really excited about how far he’s come and what he’s done for us this year. We definitely wouldn’t be the same defense without him.”

Entering the 2014 season the Buckeyes faced the tall task of replacing All-Big Ten performer and do-it-all Ryan Shazier at linebacker. The defensive unit as a whole was undergoing an overhaul throughout the offseason, and Lee was telling his teammates he was going to be the guy who came in and played the same role as Shazier — the guy who runs around with complete disregard for his body and tackles everything in his way.

“I was like, ‘Sure, buddy you are,’” Joey Bosa, Lee’s teammate and roommate said. “He was maybe 195 (pounds) coming out of high school playing quarterback and he came in here as a safety or something and he played scout team linebacker and I just didn’t believe him. All of a sudden he’s in spring and he’s killing people. He got huge, he’s a fast, physical guy and he’s going to be a special player.”

Going to be? Mr. Bosa, he already is pretty special.

Player profiles relevant to story:
14 - Grant, Curtis | 37 - Perry, Joshua | 43 - Lee, Darron | 97 - Bosa, Joey
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