Georgia Tech two-way senior lineman Jahaziel Lee underwent season-ending surgery Monday after breaking the fibula in his left leg in the third quarter of the Yellow Jackets’ loss to The Citadel Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Lee had screws and a rod inserted and a plate attached, according to Terrence Lee, Jahaziel’s father. With his new hardware, Lee was referring to himself after surgery as “the man of steel” and “the new 51” – a reference to his jersey number – his father reported.
“He’s hopeful,” Terrence Lee told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s determined now more than ever to work on what he needs to do to get back to the program and prepare himself for a full recovery and be an even better Jahaziel.”
Lee meets the guidelines to receive a medical hardship waiver and is positioned to return for a second try at his senior season. By playing both offensive tackle and defensive tackle, Lee had been a critical member of the team, providing depth at positions where the Yellow Jackets don’t have much. He has been a symbol of coach Geoff Collins’ promotion of position flexibility, using players at more than one position to fill gaps and also to get the best players on the field more frequently.
Playing on both the offensive and defensive lines in the same game made him a rarity among FBS players.
After Saturday’s game, Collins praised Lee for his team-first attitude. Even as he lay on the ground in pain, Collins said, Lee was telling Collins how the line needed to be reshuffled in his absence.
“That’s a small thing, but shows how much these guys are invested in the program,” Collins said. “So even in a sad situation, and a very painful situation, he’s able to process and think about what’s best for the team.”
Lee’s father believed that his son will be able to return by spring practice of next year.
“He’s in real good spirits, laughing and clowning with us like he’s not down at all,” Terrence Lee said. “Good, strong-willed kid, knows what he wants. Even in the middle of adversity, he’s still going to find some way to get to his goals, so he’s determined to that.”
The loss of Lee further reduces what was already a thin offensive line. Without Lee and guard Mikey Minihan, who was injured in the South Florida game and was on the sidelines in a walking boot, the Jackets finished the game with walk-on Hamp Gibbs playing at right guard in his first-ever college game.