"The thing I love most about Tyquan is he loves playing the game of football," Tarboro head football coach Jeff Craddock said of his 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end. "He's a great athlete [and] he's a playmaker. [The opponent] has to know where he's at all the time. If it's a pass play, it better not be a one-on-one scheme because he'll beat that block 99-percent of the time… He knows it's a serious game, but he plays with a smile on his face."
After seeing limited varsity action as a freshman, Lewis became a fulltime starter at defensive end for Tarboro during his sophomore season and led the team in tackles. He followed that up with a junior campaign in which he recorded 68 tackles, including eight for a loss and five sacks. More importantly, though, all three seasons ended with NCHSAA 2A titles.
"We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing," Lewis said. "… Next year is going to be a new year… I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm not going to focus on winning a [fourth consecutive] state championship. I'm not going to stress myself, because I believe we can."
Lewis also starts at tight end where he's used primarily as a blocker.
"He was a man that we never called a pass play for all year, because he couldn't catch a cold," Craddock said. "In the state championship game, it was fourth-and-eight and we called a quickie pass to Tyquan. If he drops it, we lose the game because it was in the fourth quarter and we were down. He was wide open, of course because nobody in the whole stadium thought we would throw it to him… But he made a great catch."
Lewis' scholarship offer count has reached double digits and includes the likes of Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, and Virginia Tech.
"We haven't had a lot of colleges in here, but I've had a lot of phone calls saying, ‘Hey Coach, you know we've offered him,'" Craddock said. "A lot of these coaches were coming in watching Todd [Gurley] work out and he happened to be in Todd's class.
A lot of these coaches have seen Tyquan since he was a freshman and they got film on the guy."
Lewis has made several visits to East Carolina, Georgia, UNC and NC State. He has upcoming junior days planned at Auburn, Maryland, and Wake Forest. His most recent trip was to Chapel Hill on Wednesday night.
"It was a great experience," Lewis said. "It was nice meeting Coach [Larry] Fedora. He was real passionate and he seems like a real people's person – I felt attracted to that. All the rest of the coaches were great, too."
The highlight of Lewis's visit actually wasn't the thrilling UNC-Duke game. It was Fedora's speech to the recruits beforehand.
"Coach Fedora walked into the room and said, ‘This is the best of the best in the state of North Carolina for 2013,'" Lewis said. "He said, ‘If we just keep all you guys in this room in North Carolina, we can win championships.'"
Lewis has attended a few UNC basketball games in the past, but Wednesday was his first UNC-Duke game.
"There's a huge difference," Lewis said. "The atmosphere, the people, everyone was going crazy, everyone was fussing out the refs – it doesn't get any better than Duke and Carolina."
Early on Clemson was Lewis's leader. He has since opened up his recruitment completely.
"I didn't really want to have a favorite any more," Lewis said. "I'm just enjoying the process. I'm just going through the motions. It's February and I'm just taking it all in."
Lewis says Gurley's decision to sign with Georgia will have "a little" impact on his recruitment.
"We've talked about playing together, but you never know," Lewis said.
Besides Gurley, Lewis is close to Kareem Martin (UNC), Takoby Cofield (Duke), and fellow 2013 recruit Nazair Jones, who plays for Roanoke Rapids (N.C.). Jones and Lewis have been competing against each other since middle school and Lewis says he would actually prefer to continue to play against him in college… Lewis grew up a Penn State fan. "JoePa man, everybody loves JoePa," he said. "I would love to play in Happy Valley."