That's why the Vols and virtually every other college football heavyweight is headed to the west coast to make their pitch for the Ventura St. Bonaventure High School All-American.
Lewis holds a particular appeal to Tennessee because of the impending loss of sophomore star Kelley Washington to the NFL, and the apparent lack of an on-campus successor. Moreover, Lewis will draw a lot of comparisons to former Vol Donte Stallworth, who skipped his senior season and departed for the pros last spring.
Both wide receivers come from California. Stallworth measured 6-0, 198, during Tennessee1s Pro Day while Lewis measured 6-1, 210, at the Nike Camp last spring. Stallworth clocked a 4.26 in the 40 for pro scouts on an indoor surface while Lewis was timed at 4.34 on grass.
Stallworth and Lewis both have great leaping ability and exceptional strength. Stallworth's vertical was measured at 38 inches, Lewis posted a 34-inch vertical at the Nike Camp, but has measured 38 inches during basketball season. Stallworth could bench press over 400 pounds as a junior in college, Lewis benches around 350 as a junior in high school and performed 22 reps of 185 at the Nike Camp.
Additionally, both players were good friends and teammates with outstanding running backs. Onterrio Smith was close to Stallworth at Sacramento Grant High School and eventually followed his friend to Tennessee before being dismissed from the squad in 2000 and transferring to Oregon. Today he's regarded by many as the best running back in college football. Lewis is longtime friends with Lorenzo Booker who was rated the nation's best high school running back last year and eventually signed with Florida State after a heated recruiting battle last winter.
As a senior, Stallworth caught 56 passes for 1,289 yards and 23 touchdowns. As a junior, Lewis caught 50 passes for 856 yards and 24 touchdowns. Both players are also excellent return specialist. Stallworth averaged 31 yards on kickoff returns and 27 yards on punt returns as a senior. Lewis hauled two kickoffs the distance and took one punt return for a score as a junior.
If you're looking for a difference-maker at wide receiver, Lewis would be a hard to beat.
"Whitney Lewis is one of the top play-makers in the nation," said Jamie Newberg, The Insiders national recruiting director. "I watched a highlight film of about 12 minutes of his junior year and it was all big plays. He is electrifying and dangerous like Antonio Cromartie (Cromartie is faster and taller while Lewis is smaller, stronger and quicker).
"Lewis looks strong out there, especially in the air. He is almost automatic at the high school level in the red-zone. He can beat you deep, over the middle or take the short pass the distance. Lewis has great concentration. He has a strong body and hands, good speed and excellent quickness. For a bigger and stronger receiver, he sure can start and stop very quickly. Lewis also excels as a kick returner. Whitney Lewis is a wide receiver all the way and a VERY good one at that."
With Booker gone, Lewis will be called on to make a contribution out of the backfield this season, although he'll still get plenty of reps at wide receiver.
"We'll try and get him the ball as much as possible," St. Bonaventure head coach Jon Mack said. "He'll be a marked man, but we'll get him the ball. We're strong at the quarterback position with Brian Stevens and I'm happy with our running backs so Whitney will still play a lot of receiver."
In his typical team-first approach, Lewis is taking the move to running back in stride, but he knows his future is firmly rooted in route running.
"It's my favorite spot," Lewis said. "It puts you out there basically in one-on-one collisions with the DB and I feel because I'm so big I have an advantage most of the time."
The Insiders southeast director of recruiting Scott Kennedy says it's Lewis size and strength that instantly jump out when you see him on film.
"The thing that stands out about him is his strength," Kennedy said. "Not only did he run a 4.34, which means he's faster than about anyone out there, but he's big and strong. He's going to be playing a lot of running back this year now that Booker is gone. With his hands and route running he could play either on the next level. To me he's the best wide receiver in the country. He's got an NFL body and speed right now. Everything about him is a freak."
Lewis is also an excellent basketball prospect and is entertaining the idea of playing both sports in college. He appears to be open and is still early in his decision-making process, but gave the following response when asked which schools he was considering.
"It's between Florida State, Miami, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Oregon, USC, Nebraska and Colorado," he said. "I don't have any timetable for cutting it down and I haven't set up any official visits."
Before Lewis can get deeply involved in looking at next year, he has pressing business to conclude this fall. You see as a starter since his freshman season, Lewis has never tasted defeat at the high school level. The Seraphs are 42-0 during that run and have won three straight Division 4 state titles. Lewis wants to make it four straight before moving on.
That gives the Vols time to make their case and convince Lewis that Tennessee offers the best and fastest opportunity to continue his winning ways.