Official statistics from Mississippi State reflect that Dontavian Lee has yet to appear in a game.
But in Lee’s mind, he played in one each time he stepped onto the practice field last fall and throughout the spring.
“Redshirting really helped me out but I really didn’t sit out because I treated every practice like a game,” Lee said. “My coach told me to attack everything and take pride in everything I did. I came out here and left it all out on the field. Hopefully that will work out for me.”
Lee is one of four running backs vying to the Bulldogs starter in the fall to fill the void of Josh Robinson, who entered the NFL Draft following his junior year. Battling Lee in the backfield are juniors Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert along with fellow redshirt freshman Aeris Williams.
“Who doesn’t have their eye on that starting job?” Lee said. “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench.”
Lee and Williams formed a bond while at the 2013 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and have created a tailback tandem they refer to as “The Bang Brothers”.
The duo combined for 537 yards of offense and eight total touchdowns during MSU’s three spring scrimmages.
“We played on the same all-star team together so we knew we had to come in here and do something,” Lee said. “We can’t leave here unheard of.”
Lee carried 38 times for 217 yards and five touchdowns and also caught seven passes for 52 yards during the spring scrimmages.
“It was a big learning experience,” Lee said. “I had to learn what I’ve got to do, how I’ve got to do it and why I’ve got to do it. Here you can’t just get the ball and run anywhere. There’s a set hole you’ve got to go through.”
Lee arrived in Starkville last summer at 211-pounds stretched along his 6-foot-1 frame. He initially bulked up but decided to trim back down to 221 this spring.
“I was at 230 at one point and felt slow,” Lee said. “I wanted to slim up and be faster. I don’t want to get caught (from behind) because seeing that on film is not a good sight.”
Not many were able to catch the former Forrest County AHS standout as a senior. Lee rushed 222 times for 1,590 yards and 13 touchdowns while hauling in 29 passes for 432 yards and eight more scores en route to a Class 4A state championship.
He also aided the Aggies on defense making 43 tackles, five for loss, a sack, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries as a linebacker.
A former three-star prospect, Lee gained the attention of Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Southern Miss but felt the Bulldogs were the right fit for him.
“Up here, we’re a family,” Lee said. “I like the atmosphere and everybody is close. I just feel comfortable up here all around.”