RECRUITING: Mainland LB has Gators moving on up

Daytona Mainland HS (FL) has some of the most impressive senior talent on one team to be found anywhere. University of Florida commitments Jonathan Garner and Avery Atkins are a good start but players like Eddie Tebasky, Brian Ellis and Matt Lewis are also hot names on recruiting lists in the south. Lewis, a highly regarded linebacker, gave us some insight on where he stands with recruiting when we talked to him Tuesday evening.

Matt Lewis is a very good student, but he was gracious enough to spare us some time in the middle of preparation for mid-terms.

"I'm getting ready and studying for exams," he said. "School is going wonderful right now. Everything is going pretty good."

Lewis had a breakout season and has garnered the attention of big time schools. His Mainland team made the state semifinals, but fell short of a repeat state championship. Even with the disappointing ending, he felt good about a season that included 19 sacks, 106 tackles, and nine touchdowns. Not bad on a team like Mainland that is loaded with playmakers, and certainly a strong enough performance that the top football programs in the south are lining up to offer him scholarships.

"I am getting interest from Florida, Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Maryland, FIU, places like that," he said. "I have been offered by all of them."

The Florida Gators have a real hole in the depth chart at linebacker. If Channing Crowder leaves early for the NFL as some expect, the Gators will have only four linebackers returning next year, a fact that has certainly caught the attention of Matt Lewis.

"Definitely, I have been looking at that, who is already there, who is staying, who is committed, all of that," he said, indicating also that his interest in the Gators is climbing,, particularly since Urban Meyer has been named the new coach.

"I am real interested in the Gators," he said. "I like the Gators a lot right now. I like the way they are building up their program right now. With the new coach coming in, he is going to do a good job, so I like them right now."

Lewis talked to right after he had visited with Florida's interim head coach, Charlie Strong, who will be the Gators defensive coordinator under Meyer. He told Gator Country that he hasn't set up his visits, but that's in the planning stages. When he does visit the campuses, he listed his chief points of interest.

"First of all, academics," he said. "Second, I have to see if they have my major. I am majoring in communication and broadcasting. I am looking at the teams, how they click together. I want to see how the coaches are amongst each other. There are a lot of other things to consider, like where the school is located."

Lewis is all of 6-2, 235 and clocked at 4.55 40-yard dash. He is a play maker and has played a very high level of Florida high school football. He started the season without as much notoriety as his more publicized teammates (Atkins and Garner) but he's made his mark this season and the scouts are very aware of him now. The Gators, with a glaring need at linebacker, would do well to receive his fax on signing day.

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