Potential MLB Starter Set for Rutgers Arrival

South Carolina linebacker transfer Kaiwan Lewis arrives at Rutgers the day before training camp. After junior college transfer Isaiah Johnson started the spring at middle linebacker, Lewis becomes the top competition for the job in training camp.

Linebacker Kaiwan Lewis cannot wait for his summer vacation – all 12 hours of it.

Lewis, who committed to Rutgers in the spring as a transfer, graduates from South Carolina Aug. 8. He reports for training camp at Rutgers the following afternoon and has eyes on an immediate impact.

“It won’t be the easiest transition, but I don’t want easy and I’m prepared for it,” Lewis said. “I’m not going to try to do too much. I’m going to do what’s asked of me. I’m going to be able to exceed expectations as time goes on and do what I’m supposed to do.”

Rutgers has a history of success with senior graduate transfers under coach Kyle Flood. Lewis plans to be next.

Junior college addition Isaiah Johnson stands in his way after an impressive spring inside, but Lewis is confident in his own abilities and experiences.

“I want to come to Rutgers and ultimately be the starter at MIKE linebacker, and be a leader for that defense,” Lewis said. “I’m going to lead by example and everything will unfold through my play. I can be a vocal leader as well. As a senior, I’ve played a lot of football down here in the SEC, so I’ve played in a lot of games. I just have to adjust to the language and lingo that Rutgers uses.”

Lewis started double-digit games for the Gamecocks. Back home out of Hammonton (N.J.) St. Joseph’s, the 6-foot, 228-pound senior brings SEC experience to the Big Ten eastern division.

“It’s a blessing because Rutgers plays probably the strongest Big Ten schedule,” Lewis said. “I get to play the best of the best. I’ve played LSU, Florida Auburn and the biggest schools in the SEC. Now I get to play Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska. It’s just a great challenge.”

Lewis’ move to Rutgers is not only about football. Lewis, like receiver Andrew Turzilli last season, gets a showcase in front of a home-state crowd.

Lewis also has new academic ventures in mind at Rutgers.

“I’m hoping to get my master’s degree,” Lewis said. “I’m in a great area in North Jersey with all of the law firms and a lot of people to network. It’s good to build that rapport with the people of New Jersey. …

“I had support at South Carolina but I didn’t have my family there too much. I think my mom and dad came to maybe three games in my career. It will be big to have the support of family and friends and be there every week. It’s more than just phone calls.”

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