January 28, 2008

Mustangs add Mississippi speedster

B.J. Lee revels in the fact that he's proved his doubters wrong in earning a Division I scholarship. Now he hopes he can make future defenders miss on him, too.

Lee became the latest addition to a fast-growing SMU signing class, as the 5-5, 165-pound running back from Ridgeland (Miss.) gave a commitment to the Mustangs last Saturday during his official visit weekend.

Lee said SMU coach June Jones projects him to stay as an all-purpose back, but also play some slot receiver. Lee ran for 1,488 yards and averaged 8.9 yards per carry while scoring 19 touchdowns at Ridgeland, which is just outside of Jackson, Miss. He was named the Metro Player of the Year by Blitz 16, a television station covering high school sports in all of northern Mississippi.

For his career, Lee topped 4,000 rushing yards in three seasons and scored 41 touchdowns. Ridgeland went undefeated at 10-0 for the first time in 2007 before losing in the first round of the playoffs. He also had offers from Jackson State, Tennessee Tech, West Alabama, Delta State and West Georgia.

LSU, Ole Miss and Georgia were also talking to Lee prior to his senior season. Lee went to Ole Miss' camp last year as wel, but pulled his hamstring at the start of his 40-yard trial sprint and didn't make any other trips.

"People thought I couldn't play Division I ball," Lee said in an interview following his commitment. "Here I am, and I can't wait to prove the doubters wrong. I've looked at SMU for a long time. Playing there is going to be a dream come true."

Lee, who has an uncle who lives in Dallas, first got a glimpse of SMU at the Mustangs' summer camp last year, where he also ran a 4.3 40-yard dash. He was Mississippi's Class 4A 100-meter dash state champion last year with a 10.56-second time. Class 4A is the second-highest classification in Mississippi, and his time was the second-fastest in the state.

At another camp prior to his senior season at Ridgeland, Lee showed to have a 38-inch vertical jump, and ran another sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash. The speed made Lee a natural for returning kicks at Ridgeland, but he said he got few chances since opponents often kicked away from him.

Jones aims to have plenty of options on how to use that speed, either in the backfield or as a slot receiver.

"Coach Jones was amazing to talk to," Lee said. "He's pretty laid back, and always gives it to you straight. I like a person that's honest with you."

Terrance Wilkerson, a redshirt freshman quarterback, hosted Lee during his stay.

"Dallas looked to be a great city. Things move pretty fast there, but it's a great opportunity to play for Coach Jones," Lee said. "I think I want to study business, and I'll be very happy to get my degree from SMU."

Lee is reported to have a 2.8 GPA.

Following his junior season where he rushed for 1,518 yards and 10 touchdowns, Lee was named second-team All-Metro by the Clarion Ledger. He placed second in the 100- and 200-meters at the state track meet.

"I know I'm small, but I run hard," he said. "I am really versatile."

Rob Haralson of the Rivals.com site MagnoliaPreps.com contributed to this story.

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