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Oct. 7, 1997

Mee Looking to Make His Mark

When Hamilton Mee was young, he dreamed of being a Sun Devil. He would find the most comfortable, highest rock on "A" Mountain. One that would enable him to peer over the rim of Sun Devil Stadium and onto a field that he would fatefully play football on years later. He was like a kid in the Bronx finding a peephole into Yankee Stadium to watch Babe Ruth swat home runs, while fantasizing of the day that he would wear pinstripes.

Hamilton Mee
Hamilton Mee has staked out his place on the defensive line for ASU.

Not many people can say that they realized their childhood dreams. In 1995, after transferring from Phoenix College to ASU, Mee could.

However, meeting the expectations that come with dreams is even more difficult. That is something that Mee must accomplish next.

Mee always felt that wherever he played college football, he'd have to make a sizable contribution to the success of the program. If not, then the success wouldn't feel right for him. For Mee, while at ASU, that part of his dream has not yet been realized. Part of the reason for that are the ironic and unlucky circumstances that have befelled Mee since he became a Sun Devil. In 1995, Mee was injured the entire season and earned a medical redshirt. Last season, the rush end's progress was hindered again with an injury so Mee mostly played special teams with very little action on the defensive line.

This season will be different, now that Mee was switched to rush end during the preseason. The move guarenteed Mee a starting role on the defensive line, and no less provides him the opportunity to make the contribution he's been waiting for since his "A"Mountain days.

"I just hope everything works out as a starter," Mee said. "There's a lot of outside pressure within the community and inside pressure within the coaching staff, so I just hope I can fulfill what I need to as a starter. I want to make it right and worthwhile. Make it so that they chose that 'this guy can start and he can play at Arizona State'."

In all, it's not hard to spot the driving force behind Mee's senior year campaign.

Mee has had a lot of time to build his drive when he was sidelined for practically two full seasons. However, Mee will be the first to admit that being sidelined did more to distract his focus than it did to help it. "Football was put on the back burner to a lot of other things," Mee confessed. During his time off the field, Mee gained weight and lost motivation. He wasn't the same quarterback hungry defensive lineman who once had 28 sacks during his senior season at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood.

"I kind of lost the feeling for playing football," Mee said. "When I came in I was kind of injury-prone and I didn't get to do the things that they knew I was able to do and the things that I knew I was able to do."

Last season was particularly difficult for Mee. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy watching his team succeed, but he did more watching than he would have liked. With All-American Derrick Rodgers playing ahead of him at rush end, all Mee could do was register five tackles and one sack. During the Sun Devils' run for the roses, Mee readjusted his thinking and was forced to accept a less glamorous role on the team.

"You kind of start role-playing, but after a while you're like, 'Why should I be playing this role?' and then you make a transition within yourself to be able to be a starter," Mee said. "I don't necessarily think that what I did last year contributed to the team like I wanted to. It wasn't the role that I wanted to fulfill. Instead of going along for the ride, I wanted to be one of the drivers."

Instead of building his stats last season, Mee shaped a strong team mentality about him and stayed patient. He accepted that Rodgers, who is now in his rookie season for the Miami Dolphins, was a special player who deserved center stage.

"It's not everyday that someone comes in from junior college, becomes an All-American right off the bat, then becomes a starter for the Miami Dolphins," Mee said. "Derrick came in, unbelievable player, and you learn a lot from a person like that and you take a lot of things (from him) with you. I'm glad to see his success."

During the offseason, Mee bounced back in a big way. He spent more time in the weight room and began to take football seriously again. During preseason drills he was not expecting to be a starter. He was slated to play behind Vince Amey as a defensive end, but when the coaching staff mulled over the candidates for the opposite end position, Mee started getting some attention. He continued to play hard...and pressed the coaches to make a tough decision even tougher once he entered the picture. Finally, the week of the season-opener against New Mexico State, the coaches decided that Mee's the man.

Mee's ability is unquestioned. Before transferring to ASU, he was among the best defensive lineman in the country. At Phoenix College, he earned first-team all-Conference honors as a freshman and sophomore. He was also the 1995 West Region I Defensive Player-of-the-Year. In high school, he earned USA Today All-American honors. This season, Mee is intent on reliving his glory days as a Sun Devil and so far his impact has been felt. He recorded a sack against New Mexico State and was also part of an all-around outstanding defensive performance by the Sun Devils at Miami.

"My first game this season I felt like a first-time player," Mee said. "I couldn't remeber the last time I tackled somebody because it had been so long. In terms of that, I felt a little rusty. I was a little scared, a little nervous. But, know the things I can do and hopefully, throughout the season, I can just keep getting better and better and contribute to the team."

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