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DYNAMITE DOZEN PROFILE: Sanford Seay, WR/Lee County -- A star in the making

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

LEESBURG -- Sanford Seay II had to stop and think about it. The question was simple enough, but the answer covered a lifetime.

Just what will he say to his father on the day he signs a college football scholarship?

"I'll say thanks (to my) Dad for pushing me,'' he said.

Well, that's what father's are for, and Seay's father always believed his son could play football. So that push from Dad was natural, just like Seay, who has finally found his own home on the football field after years of wondering why he was on it.

"I never liked football when I was growing up,'' said Seay, who is not only Lee County's top receiver but the No. 1 ranked receiver in the state of Georgia in total receptions and No. 2 in total yards.

Nope, Seay just didn't like the game. He loved baseball and basketball.

He played all three sports growing up and was the fastest kid at Lee County last spring in track when he ran a 10.54 in the 100-meter dash. He probably would have placed in the state meet, but a hip injury kept him out of the region meet.

Now he is running straight toward a future in college football. Several schools, including Georgia, Marshall, East Carolina and a list of others are interested in Seay, who has emerged as a big-time receiver.

He led Region 1-AAAA in receiving last season as a junior, and he has already surpassed those numbers in the first seven games this season, catching 41 passes (the most in Georgia) for 709 yards, which are second to Flowery Branch's Logan Conley's 721.

Seay has caught eight touchdowns, rushed for a TD and also returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

Seay has a 34.4-yard average on kickoff returns and is in the middle of everything Lee County's spread offense does. Not bad for a kid who wanted to stop playing football as a youngster.

"I wasn't any good at football, and I didn't like it, but I just kept it to myself and didn't say anything to my Dad. I would have quit, but my father wanted me to play, and I didn't want to be known as a quitter,'' said Seay, who was always a running back growing up. He was never a factor in middle school in Mitchell County.

In one of the strangest ironies in this part of the state, Seay and Mitchell County's Justin Scott-Wesley, who is one of the top recruits in the country and a Georgia commit, were together back in Mitchell County -- on the bench.

"I'm good friends with him,'' Seay said. "But neither one of us was playing at Mitchell. We would be on the bench. We both had a gift inside us, but didn't tap into it.''

Even when Seay's family moved to Lee County when Seay was a sophomore, he was still overlooked and underrated. He ended up playing for the junior varsity as a frustrated running back.

"When he first came here we looked at him and didn't think he would be anything special,'' said Lee County running back Denzel Eckles, who is close friends with Seay. "We found out he was special.''

Seay might still be waiting in the wings if not for the coaching change at Lee County, where Dean Fabrizio and a new staff showed up last year. Fabrizio loves the spread offense and his offensive coordinator, Mike Chastain, took one look at Seay, who is 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, and knew just what to do.

"I wanted to play on the varsity so bad,'' Seay said. "I was scoring three or four touchdowns a game on the JV team, but I was never happy my sophomore year because I wasn't on the varsity.

"Then we got new coaches, and everything changed a lot. Coach Chastain told me I was a receiver and not a running back,. And I said, 'Yes sir.' They gave me a chance to catch the ball, and that brought me to where I am today.''

It wasn't nuclear physics.

"Look at him, he's a prototypical wide receiver. He's a nice big target,'' Chastain said. "They had been running the wishbone before we got here, so we had plenty of runningbacks. We needed receivers.''

And for the first time in his life, Seay was having more fun on the football field than he could imagine.

"Finally, I was on the varsity,'' he said. "It was a starting position and I took it and worked to get better. Once I started playing receiver, I felt like this is where I needed to be. This is where I should have been all the time I was growing up. I should have been a receiver from the get-go.''

He caught 40 passes for over 600 yards as a junior -- and never slowed down.

"He worked a lot of his ball skills, and has really has improved from last year,'' Fabrizio said. "He is such an explosive player. You don't see a guy his size who can run like that. He has really helped this team. A lot of (colleges) are looking at him.''

Seay is also the leading scorer (26 points) and rebounder (14) for Lee County's basketball team, but now he knows football is his future.

"I've never been in an airplane, so I can't wait to make visits to schools (this winter),'' said Seay, who has been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.45. He's big and strong, and runs good pass routes. And -- after waiting forever to step into the spotlight -- he now has a confidence that makes him hard to stop.

"I look at the cornerbacks, all the cornerbacks, and I feel like none of them can touch me,'' Seay said. "It's fun. It's a lot of fun. I even like blocking, too. I like to abuse the cornerback.''

That's where Seay is today, running his own route in a game that always seemed just out of reach. He's a big reason Herald No. 1 Lee is 6-1 this year with one of the most prolific offenses in the state. The Trojans have turned the football program around, just like Seay turned his career on the field around.

He says it wouldn't have happened if the new coaching staff hadn't taken over, and the marriage couldn't have been better.

Seay not only catches passes and runs back kickoffs, he's a voice on the field, often pushing players to go harder and helping others.

"He gives tips and I listen,'' receiver Sydney Bailey said. "Because I want to be like him. He goes hard on every play, and when he goes hard there's no one who can stop him.''

That's the feeling at Lee.

"We know he is going to be wide open,'' Eckles said. "And we know he is going to score.''

Seay still shakes his head over the turnaround.

"I never thought it would happen,'' he said. "I never saw myself going Division I. I remember being on the bench with (Scott-Wesley). Me and him were underdogs.

"I just have to thank my Dad. He knew what he was doing. He knew I had the talent and he believed in me.''