Vad Lee has made things easy for CAA Football.
If the conference wanted to, it probably could crank out 11 identical CAA Football Player of the Week trophies for the regular season and write up a vanilla plain press release and just change Lee’s statistics each week. Of course, the conference can’t do that—but nobody would argue with the CAA if Lee got the offensive player of the week honor every week. In six weeks, the James Madison quarterback has won it three times already.
It’s been that kind of year.
In a win on the road against FBS Southern Methodist, Lee went for more than 500 yards of total offense—rushing for 276 yards and 2 TDs. Keep in mind, this is a quarterback we’re talking about here. In James Madison’s 6-0 start, he has yet to come home from a game with fewer than 300 yards of total offense. At midseason, he is a very serious threat to take home the FCS’s equivalent of the Heisman—the Walter Payton Award. He is in the top 10 in the nation for both passing (6th) and rushing (9th).
“He can really throw the ball, that’s what separates him from a lot of traditional dual-threat quarterbacks—he can really spin it,” JMU co-offensive coordinator Brett Elliott told HERO Sports. “It allows us to do so much more in this offense. We can have a more advanced passing game. He understand the game … We give him a lot of freedom because we trust him and what he sees out there.”
Elliott’s been in Lee’s shoes. Elliott was a quarterback at Utah at about the time Urban Meyer came in. This guy named Alex Smith was placed ahead of him in the starting lineup, and Elliott decided to go the transfer route. He was highly successful at Linfield College and went on to play several years of professional football—including one in the NFL. Lee also started as an underclassmen—at Georgia Tech. He was alternated with Tevin Washington in the triple option and decided he wanted to transfer so that maybe he could thrive within a different offensive structure. James Madison was the perfect home, and head coach Everett Withers was an acquaintance from the recruiting process.
It was the perfect fit, and now it has some people wondering—could Lee do this at the next level? CBS Sports has him going in the 7th round.
“That’s always been my dream and one that’s still alive,” Lee told HERO Sports this week. “It’s still alive because I came to a school like JMU with great coaches … You never know how the NFL process will go. All I know is that I have five more games guaranteed on the schedule and those are big for me.”
The game against SMU truly stuck out. James Madison left its cozy home in Virginia and made it out to Dallas to take on the FBS Mustangs, who feature their own standout QB with a big-time transfer on his resume. Matt Davis and Lee have a lot in common–Davis began at Texas A&M behind Johnny Manziel.
When Davis was able to catch a glimpse or two of Lee, he told HERO Sports he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It ended up being a see-saw affair with Davis and Lee putting up astronomical numbers in a 48-45 James Madison win. Davis passed for 262 yards, ran for 95 and accounted for 3 scores. He was ‘overshadowed’ by Lee’s 289 yards passing, 276 yards rushing and 5 TDs—a JMU school record for total offense. Lee even threw the game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds remaining.
“He’s definitely a competitor,” Davis told HERO Sports this week. “He’s a ‘get it done’ type of guy. He converted plenty on 3rd down, and when it came down to crunch time, the boy got it done.”
With James Madison clearly one of the top couple of teams in the FCS, one has to wonder—what if the BR-7 Dukes ‘moved up’? Geographically, the school sits perfectly within ACC country, and Lee spent two seasons playing against ACC competition for Georgia Tech and played his very first game at JMU against Maryland. How would the Dukes fit into the ACC?
“You know, if that would happen, I think we would compete at a high level,” Lee said. “We have some athletes on this team that can play anywhere. I think we’d compete. I don’t know exactly what all we would do, but we would do well. But I love the competition (in FCS) and how because of the playoff system, you’re in control of your own fate. I really like the playoff system. It reminds me of high school.”
What else does Lee like? He’s considered a dual-threat guy, but is his preference an 85-yard scoring run or a 13-yard scoring pass?
“I would rather throw a touchdown,” Lee said. “I just love when I can get everybody else involved. It’s not about myself. When you’re passing it around a lot of the guys get to touch the ball and makes more guys a part of the win. To be a part of something special. It’s not all just one guy getting all the glory.”