Saturday, April 24, 2010

Penn State LB Lee answers Cowboys' call

Saturday, April 24, 2010

When his hometown Steelers didn't call with their second-round pick Friday night, former Penn State linebacker Sean Lee took a break from the draft party at his family's Upper St. Clair house.

"I went outside after the Steelers' pick," Lee said. "I didn't think any of the next teams had any need (for a linebacker) and I would have to wait a little bit."

Then the phone rang. Lee answered.

"It was Jerry Jones," Lee said. "He said: 'You're going to be a Dallas Cowboy.' I nearly passed out."

The Cowboys picked Lee in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Lee, a 6-foot-2, 236-pounder, went with the 55th overall pick and was the second inside linebacker taken in the draft, behind only Alabama's Rolando McClain (No. 8 overall).

Other players with local ties who were selected on Friday night's second and third round were Arizona tight end and former Woodland Hills star Rob Gronkowski, who went to the New England Patriots in the second round (42nd overall); and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman, who went to San Francisco in the third round (91st overall).

Three picks after the Steelers used their second-round pick to take linebacker Jason Worilds of Virginia Tech, Lee realized his life-long dream of being drafted. Lee, who visited Dallas before the draft, will report to rookie minicamp in the next week or so.

Lee overcame a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him his entire 2008 season to become a defensive captain with coach Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions. He will play inside linebacker for the Cowboys, who run a 3-4 defense.

"I really felt like I went where I was supposed to go," he said. "I was meant to play there. I think I can take my game to the next level. The draft process is hyped a lot. Now you have to play football and work hard every day, and that's what I plan to do."

Lee watched the draft with about 75 friends and family in Upper St. Clair.

"Obviously, I grew up a Steelers fan," he said. "Now I'm trying to convert some people in the South Hills."

Lee recorded 325 tackles with 29.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 17 pass breakups and three interceptions at Penn State.

Gronkowski, who played at Woodland Hills for one season (2006) after moving from the Buffalo area, sat out all last season with a back injury but still leaves Arizona as the school's all-time leader among tight ends with 75 receptions for 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons.

"I'm so fired up," Gronkowski told NFL Network moments after being drafted. "This is a great organization."

He could give Tom Brady the pass-catching tight end he has lacked in recent years. Ben Watson, a former first-round pick, caught only 29 passes last season and is no longer with the team.