In 2012, a quintet of highly-rated linebackers all committed to play for Alabama. While Tyler Hayes never made it very far, the other four-Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson, Denzel Devall, and Dillon Lee- all became starters or co-starters by 2015.
Lee was a four-star outside linebacker, ranked as the 101st best recruit in the nation, and was ranked only a few spots lower than Ryan Anderson. With a 4.6, 40-yard dash and other impressive measurables, Lee was seen as an athletically-gifted, if a bit unrefined, linebacker who could excel in pass coverage.
In his freshman year, Dillon started his career with a bang, recording an interception in the waning moments of his collegiate debut against the Michigan Wolverines. He saw limited playing time on special teams after that for the rest of the season. Right before the championship game against Notre Dame that year, he (along with Ryan Anderson) was sent home by the team for disobeying team rules.
During his sophomore year, Lee was given a more prominent role on special teams, and he rewarded the coaches by being named special teams player of the week three times, including a blocked punt for a touchdown against Colorado State.
During the 2014 offseason, Lee once again got into trouble with the law (and Nick Saban) when he was unexpectedly arrested for DUI. He worked his way back into Nick Saban's favor, and was once again one of the most integral pieces on the Tide's special teams units. He also made his first collegiate start at linebacker against Arkansas, when a true, run-stopping, base defense was needed.
In 2015, Lee was listed as a co-starter at outside linebacker, and got the start in the SAM position against Wisconsin for the opener, while continuing his role on special teams. Lee recorded significant playing time in every single game as the season progressed. Yet again, he played a key role in slowing down the Arkansas offense a few games later in the season, particularly by instilling the fear of God into Alex Collins...
He made his start against LSU count, and intercepted an errant pass from Brandon Harris at the start of the second half, when the game was still close. Lee continued to be a versatile utility player for the Alabama defense, and made the highlight of his entire career near the end of the Michigan State game. Chasing a running back down the side line on a wheel route, he lept into the air and intercepted the pass in the most brilliant one-handed pick ever seen by a linebacker.
After missing his first chance at a national championship, Dillon Lee was allowed a redemption his senior year, and will graduate having won a national championship. While never a superstar, Lee overcame some really stupid mistakes to be a difference-maker on special teams and an integral part of one of the best defensive front seven's in college football history.
Dillon Lee, we salute you.
Ed. Note: There is no information on Dillon Lee's major, but, he graduated in Decemeber, with 28 other Tide football players -- setting a team and national record for players earning their degrees (eclipsing the previous mark of 28, set by Alabama in 2014.) Congratulations on earning the sheepskin, Dillon.