Former Illinois State OL Cameron Lee hopes to make jump from FCS to NFL

Lee grew up not too far from Indianapolis, where he is working out at the Combine

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INDIANAPOLIS — Many of the prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine get to Indianapolis by plane.

Former Illinois State guard Cameron Lee came by car. His own car, that is.

“No, [most players] did not [drive themselves],” Lee said with a laugh during his media session Thursday. “They looked confused when I got to the valet.”

Out of Oakwood, Ill., which is closer to Indianapolis than it is to Chicago, Lee made the drive east to show scouts that an FCS offensive lineman can make it in the NFL. Not only is Lee a former FCS player, but he began his career with the Redbirds as a walk-on.

“When you start out as a walk-on, you see the road ahead of you and you know it’s a long road and that it’s going to be a long road,” Lee said. “I stayed positive, I stayed [confident] in myself, I believed in myself and knew if I did the things I was told and made the most of my opportunities I could go far, and here we are.”

Lee measured in at 6-5, 312 pounds with long arms at 33 7/8 inches. He started 13 games in 2015 at guard and 12 games in 2016 at tackle.

By the spring entering his junior season, Lee said that he started to realize his potential. It’s good he picked up football after being a baseball star.

“I thought baseball would be the sport for me,” said Lee, who holds his high school’s records for career home runs and RBIs. “But I reached a point where I was too big to be a catcher and catcher was the position I enjoyed playing most. As I got older and kept growing and kept getting bigger, I thought maybe football because of the size thing is the best way to go and obviously I’m here now so maybe I made a good decision.”

After playing in home games in front of crowds as high as 13,000, Lee will transition to NFL stadiums if he makes a roster. His most memorable college win came this past fall at Northwestern.

“The win over Northwestern was one of the coolest experiences of my life. It was the first win over a Big Ten team in school history,” he said. “To have that opportunity, to be a part of that team, it was a surreal feeling. Not a lot could compare to it.”

Lee hopes to be like his former teammate, current Bears wide recevier Cameron Meredith, and get a shot with an NFL team, and this week is a crucial one for the O-lineman. It probably doesn't hurt that it’s close to home.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I was very fortunate to have this opportunity and to be here and be not far from my home and have all the support that I have, it’s awesome.”