From Marriage and Fatherhood to Playing on Both Sides of the Rivalry, Austin Lee Comes at College Football with a Wider Approach

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Although Austin Lee is unlike many of the Cougars suiting up this fall, he does have one major aspect in common: He wants the team to make it to the playoffs. His other personal goals include playing in the NFL and helping others live healthy lives with his exercise and wellness degree. He also wants to give his family the life they’ve delayed while he’s been spending Saturdays at LaVell Edwards Stadium. “It’s hard to see some of my friends get into their first houses and get things we want for our family,” says Kortnie Lee, Austin’s wife and the mother of their two children. “But our time will come and we’re excited for what this season and the next five years look like for our family.” Photo by Angie Clayson Photography

Austin Lee is not just another jock in a jersey.

First of all, he’s married, to Kortnie Dansie of Spanish Fork, who he met in true 21st Century style, after she saw a video of Austin on Instagram and began following his account. After a DM from Austin to Kortnie, the two went on a date and then married in September 2015.

The second attribute that sets Austin apart from the run-of-the-mill college safety is what came shortly after marriage. The couple had a son, Ledger (now 3 years old) and added a second child, 1-year-old daughter Romee, making Austin the caretaker of much more than the backend of the Cougar defense.

“Being a dad changes everything,” Austin says. “When I was in high school, it was all about me. In college, I have to make sure I’m there for my family, too.”

Despite his unconventional household demographic by college football player standards, the stability, support and unconditional love shown by his growing family has helped Austin through significant challenges.

That’s where the third unique aspect of Austin’s career comes in. He’s been on both sides of one of the most heated rivalries in the country.

“I committed to play at Utah the day they offered,” says Austin, who was a state champion and two-time all-state player at Alta High. “My dad played baseball there. My grandpa played football there. It was the team I grew up cheering for.”

With coaching changes that occurred while Austin was on his mission, including Kalani Sitake moving to Oregon State (before being named as BYU’s head coach) and position coach changes, he knew he wanted to move on.

And, when Kalani was named head coach at BYU, Provo seemed like the place to land. However, Utah didn’t release him from his scholarship, so he enrolled at Salt Lake Community College — voiding his scholarship at Utah — and began the transfer process to Provo.

“It was hard, but it makes me grateful to be where I’m at now,” Austin says.

Where he’s at is the top of the depth chart for a defense that finished last season with the No. 18 defense in the country. Austin finished with 41 total tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

But it still took some bumps in the road to earn his spot.

“When I came here, I knew every coach except my position coach,” he says. “I had to prove I could make plays and earn time on the field. I have seen a lot of things and felt the frustrations of football. Now, I’m trying to get my normally quiet self out there to make sure I’m helping others. Now, instead of just quietly watching film on my own, I will bring a younger player with me so they are studying, too.”

Kortnie has loved watching her husband “become assertive toward achieving his goals on and off the field.”

Austin’s Powers

  • Started 11 games as BYU’s safety in 2018, recording 38 tackles (24 solo)
  • Two-time first-team All-State selection in Alta High School
  • State champion at Alta High in 2009

Hometown Draper (Alta High School)

Current city Spanish Fork

Date night “Our last date night was at Cascade Mini Golf in Orem,” Austin says. “We’re always up for a good competition.” Other date night hotspots? Provo Beach Resort (particularly the game Quik Drop).

Outdoor spots “I prefer a nice hike, but Austin would be happiest if we’re on a lake in a boat having fun,” Kortnie says. “Utah is a great spot for both.”

Why BYU? “It’s a great school with an amazing football program. I was also excited to play for Kalani, who was one of the main people who initially recruited me to Utah. Plus, it’s been nice for have Kortnie close to her parents and extended family.”

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Greg Bennett

Greg Bennett is an editor and writer with Bennett Communications. His primary responsibilities are with Utah Valley Magazine and the company's custom publications division. He's the father of four children and has been married to his wife, Adria, for 19 years. Contact Greg at greg.utahvalley360@gmail.com.

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