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Joseph Lewis shows full gamut of playmaking ability

When an injury provided an opening on defense, the nation's top receiver slid in seamlessly. Joseph Lewis talks season opener and recruiting.

It’s a constant battle for Mil’Von James.

The Los Angeles (Calif.) Augustus Hawkins head coach has what he believes is one of the top safety prospects in the country, but he doesn’t want to play him. That’s because 6-foot-2.5, 200-pound defensive back weapon Joseph Lewis is better known as the nation’s No. 1 receiver and one of the class of 2017’s biggest playmakers.

But for a night, James relented. He had kept his five-star wideout from playing any defense since late last season in November, but with a handful of players nicked up or awaiting transfer releases, James gave in and let Lewis roam around the box as the Hawks’ ball-hawking, head-hunting nickel back.

Much like a wide receiver that plays just up the street at the Coliseum for USC, Lewis showed he has the potential to be an All-American on either side of the ball in Hawkins’ 27-6 win over Hamilton Friday night. Lewis ranged across the formation on multiple plays, highlighting his closing speed with multiple big thumps on Yankee ball carriers.

He also showed his ability to beast on the offensive side. Lewis scored the first points of the season, jumping up and high-pointing a pass over a defender for a 39-yard touchdown.

The offense was to be expected. 

It was everything else that Lewis did that came as a surprise. There was the safety Lewis patrolling the line of scrimmage. There was the punter Lewis that dropped a 40+ yard kick inside the five-yard line. There was the lead blocker Lewis on Arizona commit Greg Johnson’s 44-yard receiver screen for a touchdown. There was also Lewis lined up to return kicks and punts, blocking on the line for Hawkins’ extra-point attempts and flying down the field to lay a lick on kickoff coverage.

“It was a really good feeling because of me starting off my first game of my senior season. I was very energetic,” Lewis said. “It's the first game of the season and we shall improve more upon the season. I played well and helped my team in so many ways by playing different positions and stuff.”

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Friday night’s game was just the latest reminder of what Lewis can do for a football team. That’s why nearly every college in the country is clamoring for his services.

Lewis is still considering a number of schools, but said he has four official visits already in mind — Nebraska, Arizona, Oregon and Oklahoma.

“I have Oklahoma [set up] for the Baylor game November 12,” Lewis said. “I’m working on Arizona with me and my teammate, Greg. Oregon, I'm working on it with [offensive coordinator] Coach [Matt] Lubick. Nebraska, some of the other recruits want me to come out when they play Fresno State or the Oregon game.”

USC is another school in the mix. Lewis has stayed in contact with offensive coordinator Tee Martin as well as head coach Clay Helton and has plans to attend multiple Trojan games this fall. He said he’s looking forward to watching the season opener against Alabama on television, expecting it to be a “real good game.”

Lewis is keeping an eye on the local school to see how they operate in Helton’s first full year at the helm.

“I want to see the upcoming new offense from SC and how they go about doing things in tough situations.”

After taking his visits in the fall and hopefully winning a state championship, Lewis plans to sit down with James and the Hawkins’ coaching staff to weigh and discuss his options. He said he’ll also mull over the choices with his mother and uncle before determining his collegiate choice, which will be announced in 2017 either during the Army All-American Game or on National Signing Day.

“Whatever the best fit for me and where I feel comfortable at, I'll most likely choose that program.”

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