Muskegon (Mich.) High produced a string of top talent to open up the new century. They went through a couple lean years toward the end of the last decade, but have bounced back quickly. In 2011 they developed Michigan State-bound defensive end Damon Knox, and in 2012 they have running back Juwan Lewis.
The 5-11, 200-pound Lewis boasts 4.41 speed in the 40-yard dash, but was used as a fullback in the Big Red's Veer offense as a junior. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry from that position, finishing with 1,031 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year.
Only Western Michigan has offered Lewis at this stage of the process, though teams like Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Navy, Nebraska, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA are all showing strong interest. The lack of film on Lewis in a true tailback position may be causing teams to hesitate before extending early offers.
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"Most of the colleges I talk to predominantly have me at tailback," Lewis said. "All of the schools are talking about offering me in the summer or closer to when school starts. Most of the schools that have been talking to me in the past are still on me. I'm still up in the air and feeling out where I want to go."
In the classroom, Lewis carries a 3.8 GPA which has attracted interest from Ivy League schools and other top academic institutions. Navy is one of those elite academic programs that also runs an offense similar to the one Lewis plays in at Muskegon.
"[Navy] and Georgia Tech are a big interest because they run our offense," Lewis said. "Any school I pick I am going to have to adjust to the offense and learn the system, but I would [be interested] in any school that runs our offense."
Lewis has been sure to get out and visit schools this spring. He attended spring practices at Michigan and Western Michigan and junior days at both of those schools as well as Michigan State.
"When I went to State's junior day, they said they had a meeting about me while I was on my way down there," Lewis said. "The coaches said they want me to come to camp and they would be having me doing both offense and defense to see if I have a future on defense."
The offer from Western Michigan came in just over a month back. He has visited their Kalamazoo campus, spoken with the Bronco's coaching staff and is interested in what they have to offer.
"I like Western, and they have their own traditions down there," Lewis said. "They are a true up-and-coming program."
Besides making campus visits, Lewis is working with his high school's track team and also playing on the Midwest Elite All-Stars 7-on-7 team, which will be at the Badger Sports tournament in Pittsburgh this weekend.