Kansas coach David Beaty expecting big sophomore season from safety Mike Lee
Frisco, Texas — Kansas sophomore safety Mike Lee not only made the biggest play of the 2016 season for Kansas, a game-clinching interception in overtime in the 24-21 victory against Texas, he also was chosen by the coaching staff as defensive player of the week against Oklahoma and Iowa State. Rivals included him on its freshman All-American team. And if a national award had been handed out for hardest hit on a teammate during a spring football game, he would have been runaway winner for tagging receiver Ryan Schadler.
All that becomes more impressive considering Lee graduated high school a year early to start his college career and was playing mostly on instinct, according to Kansas coach David Beaty, who shared at Big 12 Media Day just how raw Lee was last year.
“Mike Lee returning is a big deal. He’s already so much better a player. Not fair to play a freshman," Beaty said at Big 12 Media Day. "Sometimes it’s just not fair. This kid made so many plays for us last year, and for the first half of the season all he knew was he better find Tevin Shaw. It was basically, 'If you can find Tevin, just go where he is and then we’ll teach you a few more things and let you just go use your ability.' Well, now he actually knows the calls. I mean, if you can be that good only finding Tevin . . . that’s what we’re excited about, that some of those youthful players have experience.”
Junior Tyrone Miller, projected starter at the other safety, impressed coaches with a strong spring, as did reserve Bryce Torneden.
Beaty, who went 2-22 in his first two seasons, isn't running from higher expectations for his team. He used Lee as an example of how he thinks KU has improved.
“We have people who have experience and have done it on the Big 12 level and played against the best the Big 12 has to offer," Beaty said. "Now they have experience. We can’t use that as an excuse not to be successful.”