Vad Lee. You’ve got to love the name.
Like a lot of great sports names it has the dual traits of uniqueness and simplicity. It’s easy to remember and kind of fun to say, like Vida Blue or Vassa Cate or Coco Crisp.
But Lee wasn’t trying to be cool or memorable. “Vad,” he said, was an invention of necessity. His actual name is Lavaedeay, as in Luh-VAD-dee-A. And there is no deep, mystical meaning to it.
“Nah, it was just my mama putting some letters together and coming up with Lavaedeay,” Lee says with a good laugh. “Everybody used to call me that. But when I’d go to away games they could never pronounce it. So I just put Vad on everything now because it’s easier for everybody. I’m used to it. Everybody knows it now.”
If his football career stays on its current path, Vad Lee will become a household name beyond Tobacco Road.
Lee (6-foot-2, 194 pounds) currently plays quarterback for Hillside High in Durham, N.C. If the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have anything to do with it he’ll be playing quarterback in Atlanta in 2011.
“Oh yeah, Georgia Tech’s after me pretty hard,” said Lee, who has nine offers to date, and more coming every week. “I have a great relationship with Coach [Andy] McCollum and Coach [Todd] Spencer. Basically they saw my junior highlight film at quarterback. After that got out, right after the season, they called me up and they’ve been on me ever since. They’ve definitely recruited me harder than any team.”
Tech fans will point out that the Jackets have already procured one quarterback from North Carolina for the 2011 class. Airyn Willis (6-2, 175) of Southwest Guilford in High Point, N.C., committed less than three weeks ago.
The good news is that would not prevent Lee from coming to Tech.
“I really don’t know too much about [Willis],” Lee said. “I know he didn’t play quarterback at his high school last year. He’s just an athlete, period. And I’m number one on [Tech's] quarterback board. They really want me to be a commitment at quarterback, as they say. So I feel their word is true. [But] I’m sure it’d be pretty cool going to the same school and both being from North Carolina. I’m sure we’ll get along fine.”
The fact is, Lee and Willis are very similar. Both are exceptional athletes with good size and great speed. Lee, however, is more experienced and polished as a signalcaller.
Unlike Willis, Lee played his junior season under center. He said he completed about 70 percent of nearly 200 passes for 2,013 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also rushed for 600 yards and another 12 TDs.
Lee said he prefers a pass-oriented offense but is not averse to spread option the Jackets employ under coach Paul Johnson.
“I run the pistol offense [at Hillside],” Lee said. “It’s me back four yards with the running back behind me. A lot of teams are going to it now. It’s a balanced offense. I throw the ball quite a bit and I hand it off pretty often too. It’s pretty balanced. It’s more of a pro style really.
“But I’m not down on what they run,” he said of Tech. “I think it’s a pretty good offense and it’s an offense they are successful in. They won the ACC Championship with it. So as far as me being the quarterback for the Georgia Tech offense, I have the ability to run the football. I think it fits me well as far as running and doing other things such as play-action fakes and throwing it on the run and stuff like that. It’s not a bad offense for me. That said, I love passing the ball first.”
Lee has proven he can play other positions as well. As a sophomore he started at wide receiver for Hillside while Corey Gattis, then a senior, handled quarterback duties. Gattis is now a wide receiver at Duke.
Being reunited with Gattis at Duke across town is one of the possibilities Lee is considering. Others include North Carolina, South Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Maryland, South Florida and East Carolina. He said all except the Gamecocks are recruiting him strictly as a quarterback.
“I guess I’m leaning toward the ACC because that’s where all the [scholarship] money is coming from,” Lee said. “I would like to hear from more SEC schools and I’m starting to now. I’m starting to get more looks and more calls from other conferences. I just got a call from Ohio State today. ”
But all of them are going to have to make up ground on the Yellow Jackets. Lee visited The Flats last month, plans to come back later this month and is scheduled to attend Tech’s Quarterback/Skills Camp on June 9.
“I had a great visit,” he said of his first trip. “I could only stay for about an hour because I had to get to Alabama for a 7-on-7 tournament. But it was great there. It was pretty cool because I got to talk to Coach Johnson. We were in the room for about an hour just talking life and football and Georgia Tech football. It was pretty great. My parents just loved it. I’m looking forward to coming back this month some time. This time I’m just going to go all over the place and find out more about it and see everything Atlanta has to offer and Georgia Tech has to offer.”
As for a timeline, Lee’s not sure. He’d like to lock down a scholarship before his senior season, “just in case something happens I always have something to fall back on,” he said. But the way recruiting interest has picked up he’s thinking he might want to take some official visits and check out some campuses.
“My name is getting around now,” he said.
And Vad Lee is a hard one to forget.
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