Pittsburgh Trib Q&A with Upper St. Clair's Morgan Lee
Morgan Lee has a surname that resonates not only with Upper St. Clair football but fans of Pitt and Penn State, as he is a first cousin of former Panthers kicker Conor and Nittany Lions linebacker Sean Lee, now with the Dallas Cowboys. Morgan, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior, is a two-year starter who plays wide receiver and safety for the No. 2 Panthers (8-0) and has helped USC record six shutouts this season.
Q: What's the week of the Mt. Lebanon rivalry like?
A: It's pretty much the same every year: There's always a certain presence at practice. Everybody is tense. Always. We've been playing against those kids for so many years — baseball, basketball, football — and we've always battled back and forth. Senior year, it's our last time to see who can beat each other and find out who had the better class.
Q: Which side do you prefer: offense or defense?
A: I've always been a defensive guy, especially growing up. There's just something about tackling someone and driving them backwards. But I've played more offense this year, and I love it. I actually love blocking. You'd be surprised. There's something about getting a clean block. The coaches love it when you get a big block as a skill player.
Q: What's your favorite thing about HS football?
A: It's the Friday night lights. I always looked forward to Fridays and going to games. Even when I was too young to understand what was going on, it was just the atmosphere. I loved that there were thousands of people watching you play. I always dreamed of playing for Upper St. Clair and wearing those black helmets.
Q: What lessons did you learn from Conor and Sean?
A: I've always been closer with Conor. He really taught me how to be a leader and how to handle things, rather than just yelling at your teammates if they do something wrong. He told me to be a friend, be a captain, be a leader. People ask me about Sean a lot more than Conor because Sean's, well, Sean. When he played at USC, the little kids would walk around during the game and every time I heard his name, I'd scream, ‘That's my cousin.' Everyone thought it was so cool. At that time, you had no idea he was going to turn out to be what he is now.
Q: What's it like to play for USC coach Jim Render?
A: It's an honor and a pleasure to play for him. Knowing the amount of experience he has, I never think twice about the decisions he makes or the plays that he calls. I know that he has a reason behind it.
Q: How is Render different than people perceive?
A: Growing up with Sean and Conor, Coach Render has always been around them so I got to know him when I was younger but he's always been like a god to me. I've always looked up to him. People always see him with a frown on his face on the sideline. He always looks mad. But in practice, he jokes around. He knows when to get serious but he's not the grumpy, old man that people think he is. Even though he can be. He always emphasizes to be respectful toward our coaches and teachers. After every practice, we shake every coach's hand and thank them for teaching us and helping us.