York High wideout arrived late to football, but now he has opportunity to play in college

ROB ROSE
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York High's Rashim Lee, right, completes a pass and runs the ball for a touchdown while Central York's Victor Pena defends during York-Adams League District 3, Class 6-A championship football action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. Central York would win the game 48-21. Dawn J. Sagert photo
  • York High senior Rashim Lee committed to play at California University of Pennsylvania.
  • California of Pennsylvania is an NCAA Division II program.
  • Lee didn't play high school football until his sophomore year, at the urging of his friends.

Rashim Lee never thought about a future in football, until he was forced to by some of his peers.

The York High senior dreamed of a college career playing basketball. That made sense. Lee could dunk a basketball as a freshman and planned to pursue that sport, until his friends' attempts to get him on the football field finally wore him down.

“Everybody just kept bugging me,” Lee said. “I was more of a basketball guy at that time. I was looking to go to college for basketball, and then I played football. I gave it a chance to see what happened and I fell in love with it.”

Lee joined the York High team as a sophomore and he loved the bond he and his friends built on the field. As a junior, he didn't crack any of the York-Adams League Coaches' All-Star teams. After a big senior season, however, Lee has committed to play football at NCAA Division II California University of Pennsylvania.

“When I sit back and think about it, it’s crazy, because as a kid I would never have thought I would be in this position for football,” Lee said. “Being a freshman that could dunk, I’m thinking I’m going to college for basketball, but then sophomore year came. My friends convinced me to play and my whole world just switched completely.”

Lee's junior season was the determining factor in his decision to choose football. He used the lack of all-star recognition to fuel his offseason workouts, combined with a sensation he had never previously experienced. It came during the Bearcats' final football game of his junior campaign.

York High's District 3 playoff loss to Exeter Township at home hurt Lee more than any basketball defeat had before. That's when he realized his future was in football.

He earned a Y-A D-I first-team all-star spot after he recorded 394 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2020 for a run-heavy York offense. At 6-feet, 4-inches, Lee showed the ability to make plays in the red zone over opposing defenders. He could also run by them with a 4.41 40-yard dash time.

Perfect opportunity with Vulcans: Lee got in touch with the Vulcans' coaches a month ago and they set up a visit for Friday. Lee enjoyed the chance to check out the facilities and received an offer during the visit.

The Bearcats' senior didn't wait long to accept what he called the perfect opportunity. Between what amounts to be nearly a full scholarship and a chance to compete in the competitive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Lee verbally committed to the Vulcans on Saturday.

York High's Sam Stoner, left, and Rashim Lee celebrate a touchdown during York-Adams League District 3, Class 6-A championship football action against Central York at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. Central York would win the game 48-21. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Vulcans have a number of alumni who reached Lee's ultimate goal of the NFL, including New Oxford High graduate and Las Vegas Raiders safety Erik Harris.

Just three years after he started playing the sport, Lee's football future looks bright. The joy of the opportunity is matched by an excitement about where his game will go as he continues the grind to grow his skills at the next level.

“The feeling is really unexplainable,” Lee said. “It feels crazy and it’s a lot to take in. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Dang, this is really happening?’ You just feel amazed, but you know there is still work to be done. It feels great that we got here, but we still have work to do.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com. This story has been updated to change the status of Lee's scholarship.