Niagara Gazette

Niagara U.

March 14, 2010

FOOTBALL: Niagara basketball player piques Packers' interest


Wolf explained that he'd been following Lewis since his freshman year at Niagara, was aware of his football background, impressed with his speed and agility and wondering if Lewis had any interest in pursuing a football career after college.

"I e-mailed him back and said football wasn't really an option because nobody had given me any kind of hint that I might be able to play," Lewis said.

The next weekend, Niagara played its BracketBuster game at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, where George Koonce, a Packers linebacker from '92-99, is the current athletic director. Lewis noticed Koonce was watching him closely during warmups, and after scoring a game-high 23 points in the first half of the Purple Eagles victory, assistant coach Akbar Waheed told Lewis that Koonce was looking to talk with him.

Niagara's season ended Sunday, and Wolf reached out again a few days later. Having just sat down with coach Joe Mihalich to begin planning his basketball future, Lewis decided to go through with the Packers workout, and called one of his close high school friends, Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton, for some advice.

"He told me if they're coming to you, they must be really interested," Lewis said. "His agent then called me and told me how it works after the workout."

In the fall, Lewis and some of the other Purple Eagles did football-style agility workouts on the school's turf soccer field. One day, they ran timed 40-yard dashes for fun, and Lewis was clocked at 4.45 seconds, an above-average time for skill position players. Lewis could also performance an elite-level vertical leap greater than 40 inches, according to the estimates of teammate Demetrius Williamson, who was recruited to Missouri as a high jumper before deciding to play basketball.

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