The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 21, 2012

Lewis becomes a Buckeye

Sports Correspondent
Van Holland

TARBORO — Sitting in front of a large crowd inside of the Tarboro Vikings gymnasium, defensive end Tyquan Lewis sat with his mother, Tyronda Whitaker and his younger brothers and seemed to be a little bit nervous Thursday when he was set to announce his college choice.

Once he was handed the microphone, he received a standing ovation. He said a few words to everyone and then stood up and grabbed a bag. He then told everyone he was going to carry his talents to – and then pulled out an Ohio State Buckeyes jersey with the No. 1 on it and a hat.

The Buckeyes were one of five of Lewis' top choices. He was also considering UNC, LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

After a high school player commits to a college they can change their mind, but Lewis said he isn’t. He is sold on Ohio State.

The process has been a long and hard decision to make for Lewis and his mother. They weighted the pros and cons of each school and when it came down to the final decision, they were both sold on Ohio State and head coach Urban Meyer.

"This has been a difficult process," Lewis said. "Me and my mom looked at the distances from home and thought about it but we decided Ohio State was going to be my best fit."

Lewis has had over 20 Division 1 schools to come after him. Last summer, he was sold on the Clemson Tigers, but they faded away as if Lewis wasn't committing fast enough so he decided to look around at other colleges and see what was out there for him.

That's when he took the trip to visit Ohio State with Vikings head coach Jeff Craddock. Lewis worked out for the Buckeye coaching staff and left a great impression of himself with Meyer.

"Playing for coach Meyer is going to be great because he knows how to win," Lewis said. "He knows how to put players in the right places just like I am use to here at Tarboro. He is just a great coach."

After the visit Meyer said that Lewis was one of the fastest players he has seen come off the corner like he did during his workouts. Meyer told Lewis that he had only seen four other players with that type of speed and all of them were top picks in the NFL draft.

"Tyquan is an amazing football player on both sides of the ball," Craddock said. "He works just as hard as any other player. he is going to be great in college."

During Lewis' second visit to the school, his mother went with him and really liked the school and what it had to offer her son.

"My mom told me she could really see me going there when we got back from the visit," Lewis said. "We sat down and talked about it and weighted the options and decided that was the school for me."

Lewis' main deciding factor on choosing Ohio State was just feeling comfortable at the university when he went to visit both times. He knew he wasn't going to be close to home where his mother and three brothers are, but he knew they weren't going to be that far away.

Lewis has set the bar high for himself once he arrives at Ohio State. He will enroll in the university during the second semester, because he will be done with high school in December. He wants to graduate from college in a little over three years.

"I want to get my degree and just be successful in life," Lewis said. "If God gives me the opportunity to go to the next level then I will continue to strive for greatness."

With Craddock being a big Buckeye fan, he had no part in Lewis' decision. Craddock said it made him happy on a personal level, but he was happier for Lewis. After Craddock carried Lewis to Ohio State he backed out of the situation and let Lewis and his mother make the decision.

"I just wanted him to see the school," Craddock said. "I enjoyed my time up there with him and it was like a dream come true for me to meet all the coaches and talk with them but this was all about Tyquan."

Craddock knew that everyone would say that he was a big influence on Lewis if he chose Ohio State, but he never was. Craddock told Lewis that he just wanted him to experience the school and if he chose to go there great, if not then that was fine too.

"I think he picked the best school that fit him best," Craddock said. "That is what I am most happy about. It is going to be very exciting to see him play next year in a Buckeye uniform – it is going to be awesome."