One of Jersey's best looking at USC

St. Joseph (Hammonton, NJ) stud linebacker Kaiwan Lewis is one of the top overall prospects in the northeast in the 2012 recruiting cycle, and he is being heavily recruited by programs all around the country. One school that is pursuing Lewis fervently is South Carolina, and the Gamecocks have made a lasting impression on the hard-hitting middle linebacker. Read inside for all the details.

Kaiwan Lewis is a true middle linebacker. The 6-2, 230 pound enforcer is a rock in the middle of the defending state champion St. Joseph's defense, and dozens of college coaches are hoping to convince the future four-star prospect to anchor their defense in the coming years. Lewis already holds verbal offers from South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Miami, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Rutgers, Cincinnati, UConn, and multiple others. New offers continue to flood in each and every week. Despite all of the attention, the talented rising senior is keeping his priorities straight and doing his due diligence in learning about the different schools.

"It's pretty good, but I don't try to worry about it too much," Lewis said of all the recruiting attention he is receiving. "I just want to do my thing, play my senior year of football, graduate, and get out of here.

"I've got a lot of offers, but I'm trying to narrow it down. I'm trying to determine if I like (each school) or not, or if that's a school I'm going to visit or not."

Lewis has previously visited Rutgers, Penn State, and South Carolina, and he is looking forward to getting out and seeing several other schools in the coming months.

"In July I plan on going on vacation down south. I'm going to visit Central Florida, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina as of right now. Then hopefully during my spring break I'll get to go out there and visit Maryland, UVA, UConn, and Boston College," he said. "I'm also trying to get out to Auburn and Arkansas."

While Lewis is very much looking forward to his future visits, he had glowing remarks about the three programs that he has already seen in person.

Rutgers - "That was my first time being on a college campus, so it kind of blew me away with it being my first experience. I liked the energy of their practice, and I liked Coach (Greg) Schiano. He was nice. He doesn't focus on one group of players as far as positions. He was everywhere. He was high energy. I got a lot of love from the coaches, and that was great."

Penn State - "I went to their spring game last year, and I think they had like seventy-five thousand people there. That was pretty good. Also, I saw one of the fans at that school coming into the building, and they asked for my autograph. I thought it was pretty cool. I thought he was joking, but he actually was serious. That's ‘Linebacker U.' It's a great tradition to have, and who wouldn't want to play for a legend?"

South Carolina - "It's SEC football. It doesn't get any better than that. I feel real comfortable with the coaches. They just make you feel so comfortable. Coach Spurrier is real down to earth, and so is the rest of their staff. They show me a lot of love. I performed at their camp (last summer), so I've seen how their coaches work and stuff like that. Then there's the academic side of things. You can't beat that. The facilities are second to none. It's a great place to be. They have a great fan base. I just felt comfortable there. I like the atmosphere. It felt like family down there."

Thanks in large part to the recruiting efforts of Coach G.A. Mangus, South Carolina landed three of the top ten prospects in the state of New Jersey in the 2011 recruiting cycle. The dynamic trio of Damiere Byrd, Sheldon Royster, and Tanner McEvoy surprised many when they chose to take their gridiron talents down to the Palmetto State, but according to Lewis, he wasn't the least bit surprised by USC's success recruiting in New Jersey.

"I wasn't surprised at all. Some of them I already knew that they were going to end up going there. Right from the first time I talked with Coach Mangus, he let me know they were going to be coming after northeast guys up here in New Jersey. He said he's going to recruit us hard and get the job done. I had no questions about him then, and then when I went to visit the school I was like, ‘I don't see anything beating that school.' I wasn't surprised at all when they landed (three of the top recruits in New Jersey)."

Lewis was verbally offered by South Carolina last month, and the elite linebacker prospect is intrigued by what he's heard from the Gamecock coaches about the opportunity he would have in Columbia.

"They offered me a few weeks ago. I talked to all of their staff, and they showed me a lot of love. They're really recruiting me hard. They said they need another big linebacker that can move. They said I'd be a perfect fit for that, and they want me to be that guy to come in and play for them."

Looking ahead, Lewis has a plan in mind for when he would like to make a final decision on his college choice.

"I'm going to take several visits in the spring time and summer time, and I want to get it done and make a decision right before the season starts, if that works out. If it doesn't, then I at least want to have it narrowed down."

When it comes time for Lewis to make that important decision, he will be looking for several key factors in a school.

"I want to see what coaches I feel the best vibe with and where I can win a national championship. I want to see how many people have been successful at that school without football. It's just going to come down to me being comfortable since I'm going to be there for the next few years. I want to play for a great defensive staff, somewhere with a good linebacker coach and a good defensive coordinator that's going to put me where I need to be. I want to go somewhere where everybody's on the same page. My goal is to win a national championship. That‘s the plan for me."

Lewis, who is considering graduating in December and enrolling early at the school of his choice, isn't ready to name any favorites yet, but he did list several schools that are recruiting him the hardest at this point.

"I wouldn't say any schools stand out yet, but some are recruiting me harder than others. Some schools that are recruiting me hard are Virginia, UConn, South Carolina, LSU, Rutgers, Tennessee, and Arkansas is making a pretty strong push right now actually. I've been talking with Auburn for a few weeks too."

The disruptive Lewis totaled 80 tackles, 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception for a touchdown last season, while leading his team to a 10-1 record and a state championship.

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