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Behind the Facemask: Lee Chambers

June 3, 2011

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — With the 2011 season fast approaching and an opening match-up with Maryland on the horizon, it’s time to learn more about the Miami Hurricanes football team. Every day until Fall camp begins, we’ll introduce you to a Hurricane.

Lee Chambers | Defensive Back | Senior | Coffeeville, Miss.

Standing on stage receiving my diploma I was nervous, but I felt a relief. Like a bunch of weight was lifted off my back. A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to be a student and an athlete at the same time. You have to be able to balance time between the two, and it’s difficult. Now, I could lean more toward one that I have my degree. I’m trying to get my Master’s, but at the same time, the things I was missing in football I can focus in on more now without the stress of school. It’s a blessing to finally get my degree in four years.

I didn’t think I would be playing defensive back. I had 25 scholarship offers coming out of high school. A little over half of those were offering me to play defensive back, and since you can only take five official visits, that helped me with my eliminations, because I knew running back was in my heart. All the schools that wanted me to play defensive back I eliminated. I never thought in a million years the position that everyone recruited me for, is the one that I would end up playing.

Competition is like fuel to me. When you play football, you enjoy competition. That’s what the game is mostly about. At the end of the day, you want to see who the best is. We come to practice every day and compete, because one thing about it, you can’t get hurt, you can’t get tired, or any of that, because the man behind you is just as good as you. One mistake and you might never play again, so you don’t want to risk that. That’s what competition is all about, not only going against another team, but competition within our own team.

Switching to defensive back was hard. To be honest, it was very hard. Since I’ve been here my biggest problem has been injuries. I wasn’t the smallest running back on the depth chart, but I was pushing it size-wise at the position for the college level. You have to be at least 200 pounds, and I was always between 190 and 195 – I could never get over the hump. Because of that, I stayed injury-prone. Every time I felt like I was at a breaking point, an injury would pop up and set me back.

Me and Coach Shannon sat down one day and discussed it because on defense, we knew they would be thin at defensive back. I’m a team player, so I don’t care. I’m an athlete, and I’ll do whatever to help the team. Whatever it takes to win, I’ll do it. He said he felt I would be a great fit, and it would be a good opportunity because a lot of guys were leaving and it would give me a chance to compete for a starting job, so I just took it and ran with it.

When I first got out there and started running, first thing I realized was that I had to lose weight. I was like 195 pounds and couldn’t fly around at defensive back at that weight, so I had to drop and become more conditioned. I adjusted well, and I’m surprising myself everyday with how I’ve gotten better at it.

I secretly wish that we didn’t have to condition so much (laughs).

Playing football has given me other opportunities in life. I never thought, coming from Mississippi, that I would be playing football for the University of Miami. But because I played so well in high school and worked hard at it, and did what I had to do, it got me here. I just got my degree, and it’s given me other opportunities in life. It also taught me that when football does end, I can take the same things I learned from football– like working hard and being on time–and use it in other aspects of my life once football is over.

Mississippi is very family-oriented, and every city is small. Houses are spaced out; down here, when you want to go to a grocery store, it’s right around the corner. There you might have to drive 15 or 20 minutes. The next big city was 25 minutes away. I grew up climbing trees and running around barefoot. You never forget about home, and I love Mississippi, because it made me the person I am today.

I’ll never forget scoring my first touchdown here at the U. It was on the goal line, it was only a two-yard touchdown, but it was a great experience to finally get in the end zone on the college stage. You’ve been through it so much in high school; the dream is to do it on another level.

The U is a team that feels we are against the world, with our backs against the wall. No one respects us, so we feel we have to go out and earn their respect. When you talk about the U, it’s all about hard work, competing every day to be the best. We feel that we are the best.

We are all family here at the U. We take care of each other, on and off the field. It’s like a brotherhood. The NFL guys come back, and we have a great time seeing them in the weight room, laughing and talking with them when they talk about their experiences here and in the NFL. It’s like we’re all one big family.

I’m very excited for this year, to see what’s going to be the outcome. It’s my last year; I’m trying to put all I can into it. That’s the main thing – giving it all I got. Because this is my last go-round, and who knows? This could be my last year ever playing football in my life. I’m just trying to give it all I got. I just come out everyday with an open mind and work and hope for the best.

I can’t lie, there have been plenty of days, from freshman year even until yesterday, and people don’t realize what goes into football. A lot of the fans think you just throw us a football and we go play. They don’t see the preparation we put into it, throughout the summers, throughout the offseason, during the season with all the film study and all that, they don’t see it. As an athlete and a student, guys get stressed. Practices are not easy. Nothing is easy. It’s hard work all around.

Make sure to check in for a new Behind the Facemask profile each and everyday in preparation for the Hurricane football season opener. For a review of all past profiles, check out Behind the Facemask Central.