Early in the 2008-09 school year, the two football players were sitting in Russ Kwitkowski's religion class at Akron Hoban when the teacher asked if any of the students had nicknames. White, a fullback/running back, pointed to Lewis, a defensive end, and offered up "Primetime."
It stuck. Now, with both players putting the finishing touches on their junior years at Hoban, Lewis still goes by the nickname. On Facebook, his profile lists him as "LaTroy Primetime Lewis" as if the moniker is his middle name. His Twitter username is "@MrPrimetime4."
Asked where he got the idea for the nickname, White laughed.
"I don't really know," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "He's just always been a good, showy player and you know when he does a good time. Primetime is just a funny nickname I gave him during religion class."
As a junior, Lewis recorded 96 tackles including nine sacks. Scout.com rates him a three-star prospect, the No. 25 overall prospect from Ohio and the nation's No. 44 defensive end. When he received the nickname, however, Lewis' prep career had just begun as a member of the freshman squad.
"I took on the name Primetime before I became a highly recruited kid or anything," Lewis said. "It started off as a joke."
His real nickname, Lewis said, is "L.T."
"We always played around and would say who's going to do what," he said. "It was always like, ‘LaTroy playing up is going to be Mr. Primetime on ESPN and everything.' That's where it came from."
"He just embraced it," White said. "He thought it was funny and it's stuck ever since. I don't know if I'd say I'm proud but I'd say it's pretty funny."
After a short stint on the freshman team, Lewis was moved to the varsity that season. White said he saw Lewis realizing his potential during their sophomore year when he recorded three sacks in one quarter in a road contest against Louisville, Ky.
In White's eyes, it was a sure sign that the lineman was living up to his nickname.
"From freshman year, he's a whole different person now," said White, who holds scholarship offers from Dayton, Butler and Baldwin-Wallace. "That (game) was when I really knew he was going to be the real deal. From then on, he's really dominated everyone he's ever played. He's always been dominant and a fast, competitive player."
More of a speed rusher, the 6-4, 235-pound Lewis could project as an outside linebacker when he gets to college and figures to spend time there this fall.
"He's been down a lot," Hoban head coach Ralph Orsini said. "We had him up a few times last year but primarily he's a kid that we have down. We had moments last year mostly in practice where we worked him around and played him at linebacker to see how he would do. This year it's definitely in the plans to move him around and play him up a little bit."
Cincinnati was the first school to offer Lewis a scholarship, doing so early in his junior season. Ohio State soon followed suit and he also holds offers from Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee, among others.
Lewis is far from the first athlete to earn the nickname. Former Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens defensive back Deion Sanders immediately springs to mind, earning it as much for his on-field play as for his sense of style away from it.
White said the nickname applies to Lewis on the field only.
"He's a good guy," he said. "It's Primetime because he makes prime-time plays. He really cracks quarterbacks."