In other words: Xavier Lee handles the challenges of recruiting with the same aplomb he exhibits in the pocket at Seabreeze High School. He sidesteps questions about his football future like he’s dodging blitzing linebackers. He can change subjects like he reverses directions and he never tips his intended target. Ask him the colleges he’s considering and he’ll keep you guessing with an ever changing list of schools. Then again, maybe he’s just as wide open about the process as some of the Sand Crab receivers he found for 33 touchdowns as a junior.
Either way, the elusive Lee hasn’t discouraged his pursuers as he remains one of the nation’s most sought after football prospects. He is of particular interest to Tennessee because the Vols need immediate help behind the center and he’s the quarterback best qualified to deliver, according to The Insider’s Scott Kennedy, who recently visited Lee during a practice at Seabreeze.
“Lee is a true dual threat quarterback that can beat a team running or throwing, much like (Donte) Culpepper,” Kennedy said. “But like Culpepper, his ticket is his right arm. He throws a tight accurate spiral, and he sees the entire field. Lee has a calmness about him in the pocket that lets him scan through several options before picking out the right target. There isn't anything rushed about Lee on the field, and that is one of the reasons he is so dangerous. He expects to make the play, and more times than not, he does.
“You don’t want to ever play a true freshman at quarterback, but if you have to he’s the best prospect available.”
In addition to a rifle right arm, Lee, 6-31/2, 220, has size and 4.55 speed needed to ignite an offense. Moreover, he has a quiet confidence and is a team player whose top priority is winning football games.
“He leads by example and that makes him very coachable,” said Seabreeze head coach Marc Beach. “He could easily have an attitude or big head because of all the attention but he’s just a normal kid who loves to compete in sports, go to the beach and just hang out with his friends.”
When asked about his personal goals going into his senior season Lee revealed his unselfish nature.
“I don’t have any goals for myself,” he said. “I just want to do the best that I can and take the team as far as I can.”
He’s also a focused competitor who sets the tone for his team on the practice field and in games.
“Practice has been good,” said Lee. “It’s been real intense and a few leaders have stepped up here and there. The team has pretty much come together and now we’ve just got to make it work on Friday night. The competition is tough. There’s no slacking off this year.”
As a junior, Lee was named Florida’s Class 3A Player of the Year after completing 182 of 327 passes for 3,077 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also rushed for 543 yards and 13 TDs as Seabreeze finished 11-2.
Operating out of the shotgun as a sophomore, Lee threw for 2,995 yards and 29 touchdowns. He started in the Sand Crabs’ secondary as a freshman.
The versatile Lee played center on the Seabreeze varsity basketball team and averaged a double-double last season while leading the Sand Crabs in rebounding. During the spring, he runs track, specializing in the 100 and 200 meters. He added 10 pounds of muscle on his frame by hitting the weights over the summer and also increased his upper body strength.
“I gained a lot of weight over the summer,” he said. “I did it through the weight room. I’m benching about 250 now, but I’m going to get stronger.”
If Lee’s throwing arm gets any stronger he may not be able to find a receiver, at any level, fast enough to keep up with him.
“I’ve got a strong arm so if you give me time in the pocket I can pick you apart,” he said. “I can throw it at least 85 yards if I take a step, but I don’t really get a chance to show it. If you give me a few blitzes and leave the middle wide open I can take it and run it. Either way, it’s a kill shot.”
Lee has reached the goals he set for himself in high school and wants to turn it loose as a senior.
“Certain games stand out,” he said of his playing career. “Certain goals I’ve wanted to achieve like scoring a 50-yard touchdown without getting touched or throwing bombs and breaking 100 yards, things like that. I just set my own personal goals the first two years at quarterback. Now that I’ve accomplished all of those, I just want to play my heart out.”
Lee is putting all his effort into having an outstanding senior season and is keeping thoughts of the next level at arm’s distance.
“I’m going to make my decision after I take my visits and I’ll probably wait until after the season to take my visits,” he said. “I’m hoping to get to the next level with a program that can help me reach the level after that. I want a chance to win a national championship.
Lee’s list of favorite schools seems to regularly change which is probably more indicative of the fact that he hasn’t got into a stage of serious consideration.
“Florida State, Tennessee, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia,” he said when asked the schools he looking at. “That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I don’t know as much about Tennessee, but it’s a school I’m definitely interested in.”
Lee possesses the genetics needed to reach the highest level of professional football as well as the potential for additional growth. His father Willie Lee, a 6-6 defensive tackle, played six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and his brother Anthony Kelly, a former linebacker at Seabreeze, signed with Florida State’s Class of 2003.
Florida State would probably be considered the favorite for his services, however, the Seminoles have already committed The Insider’s No. 6 QB, Drew Weatherford, and are closing in on a commitment from No. 10 Cornelius Ingram. If Lee were interested in fighting it out for playing time with top prospects, he would be considering Miami which was his favorite team growing up.
Conversely, the opportunity for early PT might make Tennessee an attractive alternative although Lee doesn’t appear interested in being rushed into service either.
“I don’t know if I want to start my first year,” he said. “That’s awfully young to learn all the plays and check downs and stuff like that. I probably want to give myself a year to learn a system before I step on the field as a starter. Playing time is really important so timing at that position will be something I am looking at. Location doesn’t really matter but playing on a successful program does.”
Wherever Lee ends up he will have a lot to do with the success of the program.
“The sky’s the limit for Xavier,” said coach Beach. “He can go as far as he wants with his athletic abilities. And, the best thing about that is, he’s a better kid than a football player.”