Craig Lee reflects on tough path to UCLA

Craig Lee needed a few extra months to become academically eligible for UCLA, but the hard work has paid off. After waking up at 6 a.m. for six-hour test prep classes, the Redlands High tailback gained NCAA clearance last month.

He said Wednesday that the trouble started because he didn’t take classwork seriously enough early in high school. Back then, the eventual four-star recruit didn’t think ahead to college and did just enough to qualify for his high school team.

“I made myself average,” Lee said. “That’s what you shouldn’t do. Stayed at a 2.0 (GPA) just to play. I didn’t know I had the talent (for college football), so freshman and sophomore year really messed me up.”

On the field, he expects to at least contribute in his first season. Lee said he dropped down to 185 pounds from 190 because he felt too slow. He wants to gradually move up to 195 without losing a step.