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Thread: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

      
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    Default Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    10/22/2009
    Lewis picks up where McCoy left off
    By Alan Robinson
    Associated Press

    PITTSBURGH - Shades of LeSean McCoy.

    For the second time in three seasons, Pitt is being led by a freshman running back who was overlooked by nearly every school in the country but has quickly become one of the nation's leading rushers.

    Dion Lewis couldn't get his home-state university interested in him. None of the big-time powers offered him a scholarship. Pitt not only took him, it started him without the benefit of the customary redshirt season and has been rewarded with one of the best seasons in school history by any running back.

    Only a year after he was averaging 14.1 yards per carry at Blair Academy in New Jersey, Lewis ranks second among all major college rushers with 918 yards rushing and third with a 131.1 yards per game average - the most among players on a ranked team.

    With 10 touchdowns and five games remaining, Lewis could threaten McCoy's 2007 school record of 14 touchdowns as a freshman.

    "He's doing everything right," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Very few freshmen can make that transition and maintain it. They can do it for a week, two weeks maybe."

    Pitt landed McCoy, who was known to everyone at the school as Shady, mostly because of Wannstedt's persistence.

    Nearly every school that was recruiting him backed off McCoy after he broke his right ankle four games into his high school senior season. The Panthers didn't, and McCoy went on to rush for 2,816 yards in two seasons - 1,328 as a freshman and 1,488 as a sophomore - that were rivaled at Pitt only by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. McCoy now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The Panthers landed Lewis mostly because of the player's own persistence. He kept sending out tapes of his high school runs even after numerous schools passed him by, partly because of his size. He's listed at 5-8 and might be shorter, yet he's run consistently well not only to the outside, but between the tackles.

    "I'll bet some schools are looking at him now and saying, 'Why didn't we offer him?' " Pitt quarterback Bill Stull said.

    Rutgers won't soon forget the player they didn't want.

    Lewis delivered a highlights video to the Scarlet Knights after he averaged 12.4 yards per carry during his junior season at Blair. Coach Greg Schiano never watched New Jersey's prep school player of the year in person until Friday, when Lewis ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns during Pitt's 24-17 victory - its first over Rutgers since 2004.

    Schiano was asked how Rutgers could miss out on a player so good and so close to home.

    "You evaluate thousands of players," Schiano said. "He's a very good player. We make choices in recruiting and some choices are made by them. I'm happy with our guy (De'Antwan Williams), and there's enough good players to go around."

    Miami of Ohio and Tulane offered scholarships to Lewis, but it wasn't until Wannstedt watched his video did a team from one of the major conferences want him. That single 5-minute tape might have landed Pitt one of the recruiting steals of the year.

    "I think we watched four plays, and they were all 80-yard runs, and I told (assistant coach) Jeff Hafley to offer him," Wannstedt said. "We had a need at running back, and you could really see his explosiveness."

    Replacing McCoy was Pitt's No. 1 worry going into the season. Not any longer. Partly because of Lewis' breakout season and Stull's steadiness, the No. 20 Panthers (6-1, 2-0 in Big East) can be 7-1 for the first time since Dan Marino's senior season in 1982 if they beat South Florida (5-1, 1-1) on Saturday.

    Lewis already ranks fourth in school history for rushing yardage by a freshman, trailing only Dorsett (1,686 yards in 1973), McCoy (1,328 yards in 2007) and Curvin Richards (1,228 yards in 1988).

    "I'm not surprised at the success I've had because I've worked so hard," said Lewis, who grew up in Albany, N.Y., but transferred to Blair for his final two seasons in hopes of playing at a major school. "I'm doing just what I'm supposed to do, because everybody expects our running back to get the yardage."

    Pitt also caught a break when Lewis graduated early from Blair and was able to enroll in January, making him eligible for spring football. Even before the spring drills ended, Wannstedt said Lewis had the look of a back who might get 30 carries a game.

    "I'm glad other people are trying to tackle him now," defensive lineman Mick Williams said. "I spent all camp trying to do it."

    Wannstedt wasn't surprised when he walked into the trainers' room at 7:30 a.m. Monday, and one player was getting treatment: Lewis.

    "I bring that example up just to let you know that he's approaching everything with the same mentality that he is on Saturday," Wannstedt said. "There are some really special qualities about him."

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...son-10-21-0911
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    Default Re: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    Today is the first time I have gotten to see Lewis, and the kid is a stud. I can't believe the strength and speed he has for his size. If he stays all 4 years, he'll get a Heisman. Kudos to Wanny for getting this kid. That Graham looks pretty **** good too.
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    Default Re: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    It's nice to see the national media finally take notice of this kid. He's only been doing this for the last eight weeks.

    Lewis is so **** low to the ground and opponents underestimate his strength. He see's a hole and he hit's it with authority. No stop and start or a Barry Sanders impression in the backfield. He doesn't put the ball on the ground, although he still needs to work on his catching abilities.

    If possible, the one kid I wouldn't mind seeing the Steelers draft in the future is Baldwin. When the Sweed experiment finally dies a slow and painful death, I woudn't mind having him as an option on draft day. A 6-5, 220 Aliquippa boy who can actually catch a football.
    Last edited by Pittsburgh; Oct-25-2009 at 06:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh View Post
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    It's nice to see the national media finally take notice of this kid. He's only been doing this for the last eight weeks.
    Unfortunately, I think it takes a national ranking for the media to notice anything...
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    Default Re: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    Today is the first time I have gotten to see Lewis, and the kid is a stud. I can't believe the strength and speed he has for his size. If he stays all 4 years, he'll get a Heisman. Kudos to Wanny for getting this kid. That Graham looks pretty **** good too.
    Do you see a chance of him staying all 4 years? I think maybe the NFL teams may be skeptical of his size, which could increase the likelihood of his sticking around.

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    Default Re: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    some of these guys that DW recruits really turn out to be great players, thats why i dont mind him so much. Even though as soon as we lose again people will be calling for his head.

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    Default Re: Lewis picks up where McCoy left off

    Quote Originally Posted by jleisele58 View Post
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    some of these guys that DW recruits really turn out to be great players, thats why i dont mind him so much. Even though as soon as we lose again people will be calling for his head.
    Yea... He recruits a few.... But not to the level that they thought he would, nor to my expectations either. He should RULE western Pa, but he doesn't... Personally, I don't think he's the answer at the HC position, but I don't have anyone to put there, so I guess I have to keep my pie-hole shut.... Guess I'm ahead of the "bashing game", eh?.... .... I just don't think Wanny can take the squad to the next level... Just my opinion, for what it's worth... Which isn't much.
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