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Impressive-Lee dependable: Sophomore Jaret Lee becomes a playmaker for DSU football

According to Jaret Lee, his sprawling catch last Saturday was a touchdown. In the Dickinson State football team's final drive against Dakota State (S.D.), junior quarterback Hayden Gibson connected with Lee twice, the second time for a 14-yard pa...

Dickinson State sophomore receiver Jaret Lee fends off a Presentation College (S.D.) defender after making a catch on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State sophomore receiver Jaret Lee fends off a Presentation College (S.D.) defender after making a catch on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

According to Jaret Lee, his sprawling catch last Saturday was a touchdown.

In the Dickinson State football team's final drive against Dakota State (S.D.), junior quarterback Hayden Gibson connected with Lee twice, the second time for a 14-yard pass that sent the wide receiver diving toward the goal line. According to the officials, Lee hit the ground before he broke the plane of the end zone.

"I was in. When I landed, my forearm was on the goal line and then I bounced in," Lee said. "I remember looking for the play call-I didn't know what the play was-so I ran a fade and the corner held me the whole way and when I looked back, the ball was in the air. I caught it, got up and looked around and it was quiet, the ref didn't say anything. ... I thought I scored."

Nevertheless, the Blue Hawks scored the next play, ultimately winning the contest 33-27. Last year, Lee had just two catches and a touchdown. Against the Trojans, Lee had six catches and nearly a touchdown. Over five games this fall, the sophomore receiver has 18 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown, making him the No. 3 guy for the Blue Hawks.

"Jaret's been really dependable and I think he started that last year," Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. "He had some good games last year, just having both (senior receivers) Seth (Ewoniuk) and Dylan (Skabo) here, there were just a lot of good players on the field as well. Jaret now has his opportunity this year and he's made the best of it. He does a really good job of finding the open spots, he's faster than you think he is and he goes up and catches the ball really well."

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Lee has proven himself to work around defenders, finding the open spot just long enough to make the catch before advancing up field. Last season, he averaged 7.5 yards per receptions, whereas this year he's averaging 14.9. He scored his only touchdown so far in the season opener against the University of Jamestown with a 57-yard reception, much of which was in the air, proving he can get under the football and make the big plays.

Lee said he never gets nervous before or during a game. Even when the ball is in the air and coming at him, regardless of how well he's covered, he doesn't panic or freeze. He just thinks one thing:

"That it's mine. That's it," Lee said.

The sophomore does play another role that most Blue Hawk fans probably don't know about.

"The other thing that people don't realize and forget about is him being our long snapper too," Stanton said. "He hasn't had a bad long snap in a couple years, so he quietly goes in there and long snaps and makes a lot of tackles on the punt team as well."

Lee has lived in Dickinson his whole life and graduated from Dickinson Trinity High School, but confessed he had never been to a Blue Hawks game prior to playing in one. He was recruited heavily by Minnesota State - Moorhead, but when they asked him to be a walk-on his first year, he turned down the offer and reached out to Stanton.

Now, not only does he suit up for the football team, but also the golf team. In the spring, it's easier to balance the two, but during the fall, it's far more difficult.

As the football team left Billings, Mont., on Saturday, Sept. 8, following its 21-10 loss to Rocky Mountain College, Lee stuck around to compete for the golf team at Montana State Billings. Over two days and three rounds, he swung for 75, 75 and 74, good for a team-leading total of 224 strokes.

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Lee, who has been golfing since fourth grade, doesn't practice with the team but instead goes out on his own.

He said the two sports do little to support each other. Golf head coach Thadd O'Donnell has said in the past that Lee has tenacity on the course, as he wants to get the ball down the green as quickly as possible.

"He's always trying to get me to play conservative and hit irons down the fairway and I'm never going to hit an iron down the fairway," Lee said. "I just don't see the point of it. So maybe that (mindset) overlaps a bit (with football)."

While playing two sports, Lee is obviously still a student. He initially studied business but has changed his major to soil science. With a minor in earth science, Lee said he hopes to go into surveying or perhaps reclamation.

Every Saturday though, Lee doesn't think about classes or putts. Like his teammates, winning the football game is his top and sole priority.

"I think he's one of our most-improved players," Stanton said. "He stayed healthy and he's a guy that's just really dependable. When he's on the field we feel pretty good about ourselves because he has that ability, when the ball goes in the air, he really has that ability to go make the plays. He is a playmaker."

Dickinson State sophomore receiver Jaret lee goes up for a catch in a conference game against Presentation College (S.D.) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the BAC. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State sophomore receiver Jaret lee goes up for a catch in a conference game against Presentation College (S.D.) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the BAC. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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