Lincoln's small linebacker is playing big

Going after a pass in Sunday's 12-0 victory over Cheyney, Brucelee Sterile shows the intensity that earned him the nickname "Mighty Miniature One." He's a standout in the classroom, too.
Going after a pass in Sunday's 12-0 victory over Cheyney, Brucelee Sterile shows the intensity that earned him the nickname "Mighty Miniature One." He's a standout in the classroom, too.
Posted: September 07, 2010

He may be small at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, but middle linebacker Brucelee Sterile throws big hits.

The Lincoln University junior, known to fans as the "Mighty Miniature One," routinely overpowers linemen 100 pounds heavier and is called "the pulse of our team" by his coach.

"Since he's been here, he's probably been one of the most intense student-athletes I've ever been around, from class work to on the field," Lions coach O.J. Abanishe said.

"What I mean by intense is, whenever he is doing something, it's 100 percent."

Maybe that explains Sterile's 3.873 grade-point average in Lincoln's honors program and why the business management major won't settle for being anything other than a corporate lawyer if his dream of playing in NFL doesn't work out.

"I'm trying to show that being an athlete, you don't have to be dumb in school," said Sterile, a member of Lincoln's business club and the student-athlete adviser committee. "I want people to know that you can achieve high standards in school and still be a successful football player."

Sterile also wants to show he made the right decision by choosing Lincoln over Stanford, Mississippi, Central Michigan and Western Michigan. Those Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) programs recruited him to play safety.

But the Miami Herald's 2007 second-team all-Dade County linebacker selection turned them down because he wanted to stay at linebacker in college.

"I have a linebacker mind-set. I'm the core," said Sterile, a former standout at Miami's North Miami Beach High, the school that produced Eagles guard Max Jean-Gilles.

"Everything happens for a reason," he added. "I've been blessed to come to Lincoln University and continue playing the position I know best. And it's worked out pretty good so far."

That's an understatement as Sterile led the team in tackles in each of the last two seasons. He finished with 97 tackles in 2008 and 88 stops and three sacks last season.

And Sterile is off to a good start this season. He had four solo tackles and a pass breakup in Sunday's 12-0 victory over Cheyney at Northeast High's Charles Martin Memorial Stadium. His highlight came when he leveled a Wolves ballcarrier for a 1-yard loss.

As jarring to some as his big hits, Sterile's first name also draws attention. He was named after Bruce Lee, one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century.

"My father, he enjoyed Bruce Lee a lot," Sterile said. "So my mother, I guess you can say that she went with it."

Sterile's performance doesn't surprise Abanishe, who said that Sterile and another North Miami Beach product, center Jordan Jones, have been two of the team's best recruits.

"Bruce is one of the guys, if you are playing checkers, he is going to make sure that he wins," Abanishe said.

Because of that drive, Sterile said those other schools made the mistake of not recruiting him as a linebacker.

"They are going to regret it," he said. "They didn't get a player of my caliber. When they do see me out with my team, they are going to know that they missed."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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