Sooners, Tigers and Pack battle for Florida OL

NC State offensive line coach Mike Barry knows that the Wolfpack need to land quality offensive linemen this season. One major target is Tampa (Fl.) Jefferson's Antuan Lewis. Lewis may be a new name on the recruiting radar for Wolfpack fans but college scouts have been familiar with the mammoth lineman for months.

The state of Florida boasts many top offensive line prospects but at least one, Antuan Lewis (6-5, 310 pounds, 5.9 in the 40) of Jefferson High School in Tampa, Fla has flown largely under the radar of most recruiting outlets. However, Lewis has come up huge in 2004, helping his team to a 7-3 record with a second round playoff game on the horizon. In 2002, he was a starter at DT for a Jefferson squad that advanced to the state championship.

Jefferson offensive line coach Bob Henriquez told The St Petersburg Times recently that Lewis has all the requirements to develop into a big-time lineman.

"He's obviously got all the God-given skills," said Henriquez. "He has great size, but he's also very athletic for his size. And he's an incredibly aggressive player. He's very nimble on his feet and the most important thing for an offensive lineman is his feet."

His potential on both sides of the line has landed Lewis scholarship offers from schools like Oklahoma, Florida, Clemson, Rutgers, Indiana and Iowa State among others. Another school showing interest is NC State although Lewis admitted he isn't sure if the Pack's offer is official just yet.

"I'm not sure if State has offered but they told me they want me and want me to come up for a visit and I needed to play for them so I'm not sure what that means," Lewis said.

Despite the uncertainty of a Wolfpack offer, the Pack has emerged as one of the schools at the top of Lewis' wish list.

"Right now, I like NC State, Oklahoma, Clemson and Louisville and that's really it for me right now," he said. "Florida offered me a scholarship, but I don't know how that's going to work out with all the coaches leaving."

Lewis talked about what stands out to him in regards to his top three.

"Everybody NC State plays, it seems like they make it a rival game, especially in the ACC, and they give everybody a run. I know this year they were a little off but when they had Philip Rivers they were definitely on. They're going to be good next year, I'm sure.

"Oklahoma, you know they're winning every year. And Clemson, I like the conference and the competition in the ACC. Right now, those two are recruiting me the hardest. It seems like I hear from them every other day."

Rated the No. 52 player in Florida by recruiting analyst Larry Blustein, Lewis has seen interest on both sides of the ball. Whatever the position, the senior lineman feels that simply the opportunity to play early will be huge in his decision.

"I prefer defense because I'm aggressive and I can get to the ball," Lewis said. "But it doesn't really matter to me. Where ever they need me, that's where I'll play at. The thing I'm looking mainly at is where I can go in and maybe play early."

St Petersburg Times article on Antuan Lewis

Scouting Report: Finding impact defensive tackles at the prep level isn't an easy thing to do. College coaches will tell you the same – finding quality defensive tackles to recruit is even harder. I remember driving to Jacksonville a few years ago to watch a showdown between Ed White and Jefferson. There were probably 20 future Division 1 players on the field that night, including seniors Andre Caldwell and Dee Webb. I remember seeing a young defensive tackle for Jefferson that couldn't be blocked when he was in the game. He'd come in for two plays, make two nice plays then get tired and come off the field for a couple. Fast forward two years and I saw Lewis again this spring. Now in better shape, he's still a dominating force in the middle of Jefferson's defense. He plays with naturally light feet and is a classic two-gap tackle who is very difficult to block. Although he still isn't in the physical shape to dominate every down, he has the potential to someday. He has natural ability that some kids playing in the NFL don't have. It's up to him now." -- Analyst Mike Bakas

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