Orville Lee - Running Back - 1988-92 - Simon Fraser
Orville Lee was the first overall selection in the 1988 CFL amateur draft. Lee was born in Jamaica but grew up in North York, Ontario. He was a standout running back with Simon Fraser and had an outstanding first season with the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1988. On a club that finished 2-16, Lee racked up 1,075 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns, he also had 940 yards in kickoff return - He had over 2,500 combined all purpose yards that season. In 1988 he led the entire CFL in rushing only the second Canadian raised running back to do so in over 50 years (Normie Kwong being the other). Lee was named the leagues Most Outstanding Rookie and was runner up for the leagues Most Outstanding Canadian award.
Lee would never match his rookie exploits in 1989 he had just 398 yard on the ground, he added 319 receiving yards. In 1990 he was traded to Saskatchewan were he served as a back-up rusher. He spent 1 final season in 1992 with Hamilton before retiring . With Hamilton Lee had 416 yards rushing and a career high 5 touchdowns. He may not have lived up to his promising rookie campaign but with an incredible rookie season Orville Lee brough attention to what a Canadian running back can do when given the opportunity as a feature running back.
Lee faced many stereotype as a Canadian raised running back. He spoke out about the perception and misconception of non-import running backs in relation to the breakout season for Hamilton's Jesse Lumsden in 2007.
--excerpted - Mike Beamish - Vancouver Province - Aug 16, 2007
Born in Jamaica, Lee was first exposed to football at high school and community leagues in North York, Ont. He drew his inspiration not from Canadian running backs -- there weren't any -- but from Sweetness, Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears.
"I remember a coach telling me, 'You don't run like a Canadian,' " Lee says. "I used it as fuel for my fire. The perception of a Canadian running back -- I'm going to be blunt -- was that they weren't equal to an American back. But give a kid who has talent an opportunity, he'll rise to the occasion and take on that challenge, as Jesse (Lumsden) is doing now. There's no telling what he can do."
Lumsden, from McMaster University, is second on the CFL rushing tables with 592 yards, 22 yards behind Winnipeg's Charles Roberts. Roberts, however, has had 49 more carries than the Hamilton tailback. Lumsden's average gain, on just 67 opportunities, is an astounding 8.8 yards. The Ti-cat can rock. He just needs to be handed the rock more.
"I think you see players like Jesse, Jason Clermont and Paris Jackson, at wide receiver, changing attitudes," Lee says. "I used to say to coaches, 'I'm not Jamaican or Canadian, I'm an athlete.' The stigma, unfortunately, is still there."
Lee has good reason to promote the advance of Canadian youth in pro football. His eldest of two sons, Jamall Lee, is a running back with the Bishop's University Gaiters and has aspirations for a career in the CFL. The 20-year-old social sciences major from Port Coquitlam, B.C., led the Quebec Conference in rushing last season.