BUFORD, Ga. -- ESPNU 150 Watch List LB Dillon Lee decided to play for Nick Saban and Alabama on Monday. The Buford High School star committed to the Crimson Tide over Florida State at a ceremony in a packed field house at his high school.
"I want to thank my family for all their support. I want to thank Coach [Jess Simpson] and all the coaches here at Buford for all their help," Lee said. "I want to thank Jimbo Fisher and the final schools. They have a great staff and facilities. Coach Saban and Alabama are second to none. It's the best place for me to go. I will pursue my college career at Alabama. Roll Tide."
Alabama picked up a tough and versatile football player in Dillon Lee. The Under Armour All-American is a talented tight end and could help the Tide in the role, but Lee looks to be headed to Tuscaloosa as a linebacker, which is a good fit for him as well. He has good size and a frame that could still support more good bulk. He is a good athlete who should fit well in Alabama's defense and if he plays linebacker in college (as opposed to tight end), playing in a 3-4 defense is a better scheme for him. He is a physical kid who plays the run well and is athletic enough to drop into coverage and play in space. He also has the ball skills to make a play when the opportunity is there. Lee does have aspects of his game that he needs to keep improving, but he plays the game hard, comes from a successful high school program and should bring an understanding of what it takes to win. Lee is a good pick-up for Alabama and should at least be able to contribute quickly as a productive special team's player if needed.
-- Billy Tucker, ESPN recruiting coordinator
For the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Lee, it just came down to feel, and Alabama felt right for him and his future.
"I was at multiple visits to both schools," Lee said. "I love the facilities at both places. It just came down to feeling more comfortable at Alabama. It's the best place for me."
Lee made his decision late Sunday afternoon, and informed both coaching staffs in Tallahassee and Tuscaloosa around 4:30 p.m. ET Monday.
"Coach Fisher took it well and supported my decision," Lee said. "He wished me luck. I talked with Coach Saban, and he was excited about my decision. He told me congratulations and that I only get this chance once. He was very happy and excited for me."
Simpson feels Alabama is getting a player who is very good now and will continue to get better.
"They are getting a young man as talented as we have ever had here," Simpson said. "Football comes easy to him. He's big, fast and very athletic. He has that skill set and he's really mature. Dillon's best football is ahead of him."
Lee's older brother, Dallas, plays for the University of Georgia, but the Dawgs didn't make Dillon's final pairing. Regardless, his father is proud of how things turned out for his youngest son.
"I am very excited for Dillon, that my son will get a chance to play college football at a school like Alabama and for a coach like Nick Saban," Robert Lee said. "Dillon's dream came true, and we are very happy for him. There were obviously a few schools pursuing him, but in the end, I think it was a fairly easy decision for Dillon."
Lee is projected to play middle linebacker for the Crimson Tide but plans on making the most of his opportunity regardless of which position he plays.
"I really don't have any expectations going on," Lee said. "I just want to compete for a starting spot and do anything to help the team when I get there. I am being recruited to play middle linebacker, but that's not set in stone. I could move to the outside or play all four spots."
Lee is Alabama's 12th verbal commitment for its class of 2012.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.