Lee excited to go back and play in hometown

Photo by John Nakano

Tech quarterback Vad Lee returns to his hometown this weekend to lead his team against the Duke Blue Devils.

Vad has lived in Durham his whole life and has been around the Duke football program for many years. Lee attended Hillside High School in Durham. During his senior year of high school, he rushed for 1,300 yards and threw for 3,223 yards. At a game where Tech head Coach Paul Johnson attended, Lee rushed for five touchdowns. Lee went on to lead his team to a 16-0 record including a 40-0 victory in the state championship game and was named the AP North Carolina state Player of the Year.

Last year, Lee was a huge contributor in Tech’s game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Lee led Tech to a season high 68 points and racked up 112 rushing yards and 3 total touchdowns.

Chapel Hill is ten miles away from Durham, but the Duke game will mean much more for him. Vad knows this is more than just a game.

“A win would mean everything, not just for me, but for the team. It’s for the coastal division and a win is one step closer to our goal of winning the ACC championship,” Lee said.

Lee is looking forward to the game.

“It’s a great feeling to just go home and play,” Lee said. “I went my redshirt year and wasn’t able to play. This time I’ll be able to play and I’m very excited.”

Lee is also excited about his growing chemistry with wide receivers Darren Waller and Michael Summers.

“Darren and I have been working together for a while. At the end of the season last year, we knew we would have to step up and be focal points of the offense,” said Lee. “I’m glad Michael had a big game last week. It gives him a lot of confidence and he might even break out and become a big time player this year.”

Being from Durham and having several high school teammates suit up for the Blue Devils, Lee has a lot of connections and friends in the Duke program.

“I have a lot of relationships with them. The starting quarterback, Anthony Boone, and I are close. He’s a great quarterback. We worked out together coming out of high school,” Lee said.

However, Boone recently suffered a broken collarbone, so the two friends will have to wait until next year to face off against each other.

Lee did not grow up a Duke fan, but the Blue Devil football program helped make Vad become what he is now.

“I grew up a UNC fan, but I attended a lot of games at Wallace Wade. Especially as a recruit, you can go to the games for free and I used that a lot,” Lee said. “When I go home, I’ll stop by Duke and run the stairs of the stadium. I’ve been doing that since I was a little.”

Lee had nothing but praise for Duke head coach, David Cutcliffe.

“I used to be around their facilities all the time watching Peyton Manning film. Coach Cutcliffe is a great coach. We still have a great relationship till this day so I’m looking forward to seeing him as well.”

Cutcliffe is known for coaching both Eli and Peyton Manning and helping them become what they are today.

More than 40 friends and family are expected to come to Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday to see Lee. According to Lee, there were many more requests, to the point of becoming overwhelming. A lot of coaches and players from his high school are expected to come and show support for their former star too.

Lee has been preparing for this game since last summer and has been dreaming about it for much longer than that.

“In the summer I did a Duke film cutout for myself to study the defense. Over the summer I was bored and wanted to just watch film and get ahead for the season. Now I’m able to use those cutouts and put them to good use,” Lee said.

Lee is 2-0 in games against teams from North Carolina where Lee has seen significant playing time. In those two games, though it is a small sample size, Tech averaged 69 points per game; scoring 68 against North Carolina last season and 70 against Elon this year.

While Tech may find it hard to reach those scores against Duke this Saturday, Lee looks to continue his win streak against North Carolina teams and hopes to graduate with a perfect record against them. If the Jackets are able to win this game, it will be three straight football season Lee has gone without losing a game in the state of North Carolina

As for most people, Lee’s hometown is a special place for him. Returning to a place where he has played so many games, but never one at the collegiate level, will surely be a special day for him.