After three years at Maryland, punter Wade Lees will spend his final year of eligibility on the west coast, announcing on Twitter Thursday that he will be playing his final season at UCLA.
Caitlin and I are happy to say we will be moving to LA where I will be playing my final season at @UCLAFootball. I couldn’t have played along side a better bunch of teammates at Maryland and have no doubt about the success that’s coming their way. Thanks to everyone in Maryland pic.twitter.com/bCttQXmKh2— Wade Lees (@WL_88) May 9, 2019
who have made this place home for for the past 3 1/2 years. Leaving with a undergrad and masters is beyond what i imagined. There are to many people to thank but you know who you’re. The LA invasion is complete @prokickaustralia @johnnypka Onto the next chapter. #gobruins pic.twitter.com/4xdD5injh2— Wade Lees (@WL_88) May 9, 2019
Lees committed to Maryland as a 27-year old former Australian football player in December 2015, and was the Terps’ starting punter from that day on. He had his best season at Maryland in 2018, finishing with career highs in average yards per punt (40.9), punts inside the 20 (28) and punts over 50 yards (9). His season highlight, though, was his fake punt completion to Taivon Jacobs against Ohio State.
FAKE PUNT ALERT! Maryland's offense is still in business. pic.twitter.com/KzzsWg1NjG— Justin Fitzgerald (@jfitzgerald52) November 17, 2018
Lees was honored on senior day against Ohio State despite having one year of eligibility left, and reports surfaced after Maryland’s season-ending loss to Penn State that he was one of a handful of players who entered the NCAA’s new transfer portal.
As with everything that happened with Maryland football last season, Lees’s career year didn’t happen without controversy. He and fellow punter Matt Barber fought in practice the day after DJ Durkin was reinstated, with Barber saying Lees attacked him because he was a whistle-blower and spoke out about the culture within the program. Multiple players defended Lees after the incident, with Lees saying Barber’s recounting of the incident was “far from the truth.”
With Lees’ departure, Maryland will likely turn to incoming freshman Anthony Pecorella to take his spot. Bentley Faulkner was the only punter in spring camp, and both he and Mike Shinsky struggled in the spring game, which means Pecorella will provide much-needed depth at the position.