Lewis likes LSU, Ragin' Cajuns

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound 2014 cornerback from New Iberia talks about a variety of topics. Lewis is competing at the NUC Top Prospect Camp this weekend in Oklahoma, and FOXSportsNEXT.com will have a full recap. He had an excellent showing as a sophomore starter with three interceptions, including a pick-six that covered 87 yards.

Daniel Lewis has already shown his propensity to make big-time plays, including a pick-six interception last fall in New Iberia's 28-0 shutout against 5A foe Lafayette High.

Lewis also swiped a pass in last year's cross-town (and district) rivalry game with Westgate. NISH fell to the Tigers in that contest, but that was one of the Yellow Jackets' few losses in an 8-3 campaign.

NISH head coach Rick Hutson's crew - with Lewis and '13 LB Dre Fusilier providing leadership, talent and experience from both sides of the ball in 2012 - plan to advance deeper than 2011, when the Yellow Jackets were eliminated on the road in the first round of the 5A playoffs in northeast Louisiana vs. the solid Ouachita Parish Lions.

Hutson has built a winner at NISH, which has struggled at times over the past decade (and a couple of years) since the school's enrollment was sliced in half by Westgate, which opened its doors during the 1990s.

In all likelihood, NISH will get a surplus of pivotal plays in '12 from Lewis, who did big things at the National Underclassmen Combine Five-Star Showcase held a few months ago at Zachary High.

"I'm looking to do real good at the Top Prospect Camp," Lewis said. "I expect to make the Showcase (where selected elite performers are chosen to participate in one-on-one drills). I think I'll do well in the 7v7 competition. My 7v7 team at the Ultimate 100 finished as the runner-up."

Lewis, who is a model student, plays soccer and the guitar - and has already notched a score of 20 on his ACT.

"I'm going with my grandpa and my brother to the Top Prospect Camp in Oklahoma. Lately, I've been training for football (both the season and this weekend). I've been going out and throwing with our QB (Lewis will play RB this fall, too) and running drills.

"(NISH) had a 7v7 scheduled for last Thursday against (5A opponent) Thibodaux, but it got canceled.".

Lewis likes both LSU and the New Orleans Bowl champion UL-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, and it's almost guaranteed that Lewis will get a long look from both programs.

"I was ecstatic," Lewis said when asked how he felt about LSU's reported interest. "When I heard that, it was the highlight of my week."

Lewis quickly reconsidered - without even a pause.

"No, it was the highlight of my summer," he said, speaking again about LSU. "Our (former) kicker (at NISH) - Colby Delahoussaye - is at LSU (as a true freshman). I talked to him, and he likes it a lot. He's working out every day with the team."

For Lewis to land an LSU offer, he'll need to continue shining and showing progress this fall.

He has specific goals set out, and the sky seems to by the limit for Lewis, who also has Texas A&M interest (we'll talk more about that with him soon).

"I'm trying to get eight picks (as a junior)," he stated. "I could have had a lot more last year, but I dropped some balls. I had missed opportunities. Our coaches think I'll probably be put in position to make a lot of interceptions, because we face more passing teams in this district."

NISH opens the 2012 campaign Aug. 31 at home vs. Class 4A St. Martinville.

St. Martinville, which promises to be better (made playoffs in '11) this year, doesn't throw a lot, but the Tigers - with seniors Jamiah Nelson, Kendall Wiltz and Jude St. Julien - should be a decent test for NISH.

Lewis and the Yellow Jackets have Lafayette and Westgate on the non-district slate once again (along with Thibodaux, which usually doesn't hesitate to put the pigskin in the air with the passing game).

Westgate isn't a spread team and wasn't last year when it ran the I-option old-school Nebraska Cornhuskers offense under former head coach Brian Fine. Westgate will continue with that as the staple for at least the first year of new head coach Ryan Antoine's tenure.

Westgate's run-oriented philosophy didn't keep Lewis from snaring an interception last year, though.

Central Lafourche, South Lafourche, Terrebonne and Pineville are in Westgate's district, along with H.L. Bourgeois. Those five schools have been in same district with Westgate for one year. Four of the five (with Pineville the lone exception) are located a nice-sized distance south of New Iberia.

Neither Pineville nor the four Houma-area programs are known for being a bruising, ground-heavy offensive team.

In the recent past, Lewis and NISH were in smaller districts with powerful offensive juggernauts such as Carencro (2011 5A state runner-up) and St. Thomas More.

Carencro keeps true much of the time to what you'd expect from a double-wing team (handoffs, option, traps, sweeps, etc.). St. Thomas More, under legendary head coach Jim Hightower, usually scores bunches of points and moves the ball a variety of ways. The south Lafayette-based Cougars (STM) had two hard-working, versatile senior RBs last year: Jon Juneau, now at LSU, and Matt Flores (Northwestern State).

Back to the recruitment of Lewis: He likes the Ragin' Cajuns, as well as LSU.

"I love what they're doing," Lewis said of the Cajuns and head coach Mark Hudspeth. "Their coaching staff hasn't been there long - and they went to a bowl and won (over favored San Diego St. in the Superdome last December)."

Lewis was evaluated by FoxSportsNEXT.com this year at the NUC Five-Star Showcase, in addition to a 7v7 tourney held recently on the NISH campus. The Yellow Jackets play their home games at Lloyd G. Porter Stadium - located just behind NISH's old campus. Westgate and NISH share the same home stadium.

He's taller than many cornerbacks, although he doesn't have prototype (6-1 range) height yet. As Lewis is only entering his junior year, he could still be growing. Lewis has an impressive build. He's physically strong and very athletic - as evidenced by his 2011 numbers (near the top of the team leaderboard in tackles).

Moreover, Lewis has the frame of an outstanding all-purpose RB, and he could thrive in that new role this wall, if it goes down as expected. He should get an impressive assortment of offers, although it may take longer than normal since Lewis didn't camp this summer with any programs.

He could largely remain under the radar with recruiters for awhile - although he's already on the radar of LSU and ULL. A similar NUC showing (compared to what Lewis did at the Ultimate 100) this weekend would spread the word even more about him. In addition, he'll probably make dozens and dozens of plays in 2012 that will be highlight-film worthy.

He and teammate Fusilier - who led the team in tackles and will join Lewis at RB - are two primary catalysts for Coach Hutson.


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