Daytona Beach Mainland running back Kelvin "Mookie" Lee has found an NCAA Division I-A home after all.
He was a highly touted star entering his senior season this past year for the state title contending Buccaneers and he had the likes of Nebraska and others courting his services. When it came time for National Signing Day, however, Lee was still lacking a qualifying ACT score and so he was left to possibly pursue other options.
He even went through the signing day motion of acting like he had signed with Catawba College of Salisbury, N.C. But he never signed.
Lee, however, persevered, and today he will realize his D-I dream when he signs with the Utah State Aggies upon his first visit to the school.
"It was between a couple big-time schools, but then they all backed off and I didn't really have another option," said Lee, who earlier this past spring had almost decided to attend a junior college in New Jersey. "But then Utah state came through and they said they were gonna offer me.
"I started checking out the program and I talked with a few people and I figured out that Utah was a place that I could call home. I'm excited. It's a blessing."
It's not exactly Daytona Beach in Logan, Utah, which is about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City and just a few miles south of the Idaho border, but Lee figured if good friend and workout partner Breon Allen can do it, then he could too.
Allen, another potential D-I prospect out of South Daytona Warner Christian who had committed to Pittsburgh as a senior, now plays at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. He enters his second year at the junior college."I've been working out with him all summer. He's been here in Daytona," Lee said of Allen. "He’s just like my brother."
Allen will be about 200 miles south of Lee.
There were times when Lee wasn't quite sure how he would get to the next level."I thought if everything fell through I was gonna head to a juco, but here it is," Lee said. "They told me there is no starting position guaranteed and just go out there, 'show what you can do' ... I just gotta got out there and earn my stripes."
Lee gave credit for helping him stay the course to Mainland head football coach Scott Wilson, who enters his second season at the helm of the Bucs, Class 6A state semifinalists last year.
"He's been like a father to me on the field and in school and everything," Lee said. "He was there for me always."
Lee ended his senior season with 1,573 yards and 10 touchdowns for 12-2 Mainland. He was ranked No. 24 in the Sentinel's final 2012 Central Florida Super60.
He is the fifth Division I-A player from Mainland's 2012 class, joining DE Leonard Williams (USC), DB Rick Rumph (West Virginia), DB Deonte Wilson (FIU) and TE Anthony Russell (FAU).Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.