East Carolina NFL Draft Prospect WR, Lance Lewis Interview
Lance Lewis played football at Concord High School in North Carolina. Afterwards, in 2007, he went to California to play at West Hills CC in California. In 2008, he did not play football. In 2009, he played at East Mississippi CC and led his team to an 11-1 record and to winning the school’s first ever MACJC Championship. He then went to East Carolina and in 22 career games (between two seasons), he served as ECU’s go-to receiver. He is entering the 2012 NFL Draft, and is projected as a sleeper in the wide receiver class.
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with www.prointerviews.org, www.facebook.com/ProInterviews and www.twitter.com/ProInterviews. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Lance Lewis. Lewis attended West Hills College, then transferred to East Mississippi Community College, and then transferred to play at East Carolina University. During his two seasons at ECU, he put up over 1700 yards and 22 touchdowns on 149 receptions. He was their go-to receiver, and on numerous pre-season watch lists. He is entering the 2012 NFL Draft. Here is the interview with future NFL WR, Lance Lewis.
Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?
Lewis : The day before the game, I might ask them a couple of questions on twitter. They give me great feedback on different things. Sometimes, they tell me how I’m going to have a great game. But I try to talk to most of my fans. I don’t want to be the type of guy that has fans, but doesn’t talk to them.
Strauss : How do you actually start playing football?
Lewis : I started when I was around eleven. I started around the sixth grade. At that time, I played with boys and girls. I played a bit of defensive line and I also played running back.
Strauss : What was your high school football experience like?
Lewis : It was an awesome experience. The first year I came in my high school coach wanted to move me up because I played one year of Junior Varsity football. The next year I started on the Varsity team. I was just like ‘Oh man. I was watching my high school play for years and now, I am here starting as a sophomore.’ Everything came out me so fast, but I took it one day at a time, and we just got better as we went on.
Strauss : Did you play other sports in high school?
Lewis : I played both basketball and track.
Strauss : Did you ever win any championships in high school?
Lewis : I won two in football and one in basketball.
Strauss : What was it like to be a part of such a winning team in football and basketball?
Lewis : It was great actually. I guess that is the way to get your exposure in high school. With championships, your name gets out there, but it was all great. I had fun doing it. We were one of the first teams to win football and basketball championships, back-to-back in the same year. We made a big deal about it. We were just playing and having fun.
Strauss : What was recruiting like for you?
Lewis : To tell you the truth, I didn’t really get recruited that much in football. I could name a handful of teams, but it was more like the basketball side of me. I really didn’t want to play basketball. I went the JuCo route for football because I really wanted to play football, and not basketball.
Strauss : Why don’t you want to play basketball?
Lewis : I like the contact [in football]. I like that when you have a ball in your hands and you do something, the crowd reacts to it. I am a person that if I hear the crowd behind me, that will get me pumped even more. That will have an effect on me the whole game. I’m not too big on basketball anymore because the game changes especially from high school to college is way faster. I don’t think I would have been ready to be on anybody’s highlight poster or anything like that.
Strauss : What was Junior College like at West Hills College in California? What was the transition like there, growing up on the East Coast?
Lewis : West Hills was a tailor’s game. I guess that school was at one of the bottom when it came to winning games and getting recruits. But my class that came in, we actually set a lot of records, and we won a certain amount of games that they had never won before. We did stuff like that. We used a spread offense, and I love that offense. We had a great defense also, but in general, it was a great experience out there. But, it was just in the middle of nowhere.
Strauss : Then, you transitioned to JuCo at East Mississippi. They were 11-1 that year you played there. What was the experience like for you going to a better college and still being successful at football?
Lewis : That was a great experience too because I really got the best of both worlds. Playing in California, I learned how much speed they have out there. But when I came to Mississippi, they have a bunch of power, because that is where the big guys are. Mississippi was a pretty good competition coming from California. But I think I had a step on most of the guys because I played in California for about a year. Since I got the taste of that, when I came out here, I already knew what to expect. We had a great year. We were 11 and 1. I was around a great group of guys, and all of them wanted to work hard, and just wanted to win games before I got there, I know they won “The North Region” Championship before I got there, and that was the first time they ever did that. Our team coming and winning first in the state, and then going to a bowl game. That was the best that East Mississippi has ever done. And then last year, they did everything we did, but they won the National Championship this year.
Strauss : What was the transition like to East Carolina, and, why did you choose East Carolina?
Lewis : The transition was pretty easy. We basically ran the same offense, spread, run and gun, stuff like that. I fit right in position, but I had to learn a playbook on the fly because I came in late. Once I learned a playbook, everything came much easier. I had to keep up with everything speed-wise because it was a different speed coming from JuCo to Division 1. Once I got the hang of everything, and put it all together, it came to me. I don’t want say it was very easy, but it came to me after a while.
As for the reason I chose East Carolina, I had a lot of schools offer, but it had some kind of rule in the ACC and SEC that I couldn’t get in. They told me that it was because I wasn’t in the same JuCo for two full years. They wanted me in for a fall and a spring, and then a fall and another spring. The two schools that I was choosing between were University of Alabama-Birmingham and East Carolina. East Carolina is basically home and I wanted play my friends and family to come watch me play, and come to games because they hadn’t seen me play in a while. So I chose there.
Plus, I was really familiar with the coaching staff before they all left with the South Florida. But one of them stayed down the Donnie Kirkpatrick, who was recruiting me in high school. He stayed at East Carolina. My old roommate from California went to East Carolina. I was basically telling him, his name is Giavanni Ruffin. I was on top of him. I was asking him to see if he could get me in. I guessed he passed my number to Coach Kirkpatrick. We were talking, because he said, ‘We got to wait because we have a new coaching staff. It sounded like I wasn’t going to get into East Carolina, I was like I might as well go to UAB. Then, on signing day, East Carolina called me and asked, ‘Did you sign?’ I said, ‘I’m still waiting’. They said, ‘We got you a scholarship’. That’s how that played out.
Strauss : What was it like for you the first time you stepped on the field at East Carolina, and be a part of ECU’s history?
Lewis : It was crazy. I never played in front of a crowd that was that big before especially football-wise. It was an outstanding crowd. As soon as we stepped on the field for warm ups, the crowd let us know that they are there supporting us 100%. I fell in love with that, and I looked forward to that every Saturday. The fans were there every game support us, regardless if there was rain, sleet, snow, they were there. Greenville is not that big, but they come out and support. Even in a recession, they are coming out and supporting the team. We got to cherish them, and even if we lose, we can’t turn our backs on our fans, because they are there every game letting us know that they are behind this. It was a great atmosphere. I loved playing at ECU.
Strauss : Transitioning from Community College to Division 1, what was it like to put up an 1100-yard with almost 90 receptions?
Lewis : To tell you the truth, I don’t know. All I was doing was playing throw and catch basically. I had to work for all the catches and all the yards. That started on the practice field with the defense and the practice teams pushing me. Also, realizing that nothing is given. I had to really go out and work every day in practice, and in every game. How you perform in practice reflects in the game. It wasn’t easy, but basically you had to go out there and work. Do what you do every day in practice. It wasn’t easy, but it just came natural after a little while.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite catch at ECU?
Lewis : I think it was from when we played Maryland in the Bowl game. Somehow, I managed to keep my feet in-bounds while the ball was over my shoulder, and I still had to reach to get the score. I think that was a big catch. I think I made the Top 10 on ESPN for that catch. I was pretty stoked about that. I think pretty much everybody commented and said,, ‘Oh, your catch was on ESPN.’ I was like, ‘It’s 3 in the morning. I am trying to get some sleep, and you’re calling about a play.’
Strauss : What were your expectations going into your senior season for football, and what was it like for you?
Lewis : My expectations were that I wanted to do everything I did the following year but I wanted to do it better. I really wanted to basically try to catch all the balls that were thrown at me. I didn’t want to have a lot of drops. I really wanted a lot of yards after the catch. But, it really didn’t happen. I guess I had it down year. I had to follow up my junior year where I had a good performance, and then my senior year, I got hit with a couple injuries which slowed me down.
Strauss : Who do you think the best player that you played against in college was?
Lewis : [Jayron] Hosley. #20 from Virginia Tech. He was like my shadow. Everywhere I went, he was there. He had great footwork. That was one of the guys. I didn’t play against him my junior year, but I did during my senior year.
Strauss : You talk about your work ethic. How do you think that has helped you succeed and how do you think it will help you succeed in the future?
Lewis : It has helped me a lot so far. Without a work ethic, I probably wouldn’t have stepped on the field at any school. Every time you go to a different school, you are battling for that position. You got to have a work ethic. If not, then you won’t see the field or they might take your scholarship. If you don’t want to work, then you don’t get to play. But, it helped me a long way, I was thinking in my mind, because everyone that is growing up wants to play at the big school, and then, they want to go to the NFL. But me, I had to take a different route. I had to have a work ethic to fight for my position on the field. Still, I had to be a student on top of that. That is what got stuck in my mind. I was all about trying to get to that D1 school. I kept saying, ‘I got to get there. I got to get there.’ I had that stuck in my mind. My work ethic had to be the same. My goal was to get to playing D1 football. I wanted to be the first one in my family to do it, and that’s what happened.
Strauss : If an NFL scout called you up, and you know, ask you to compare your game in NFL, who would you choose to compare your game to and why?
Lewis : There have been so many comparisons, but I guess Brandon Lloyd. He is an undersized receiver, but he still made all the big catches. I am not that fast of a guy, but I have good body control and use my entire body to make the catch. I can get my feet down when I need to.
Strauss : If a team called you up and ask you a simple question: “We have this draft pick. Why should we use it on you?” What would your answer be if they said that to you?
Lewis : If they called me and said that, I have been through a lot in my life. I worked so hard to get here. I’m going to continue to work hard if you had this pick, and picked me. I will continue to produce for you. I won’t do it any other way, because I know how the NFL works. You have to work everyday for your spot, and I’m willing to come out everyday and go to work for my spot.
Strauss : What was your Pro Day like?
Lewis : I had a good Pro Day. It was very good, and I did a lot of things well to tell you the truth. I had a good 40, good 3-cone, and did well in other drills too. I ran routes pretty well. Overall, it was alright, but I could have probably done a couple of things better.
Strauss : You trained with Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers. How long did you train with him? What was it like? And, what was the best advice he gave you?
Lewis : It wasn’t very long because I am at another training spot with my old roommate, Giavanni Ruffin. But, Steve was very cool guy. He told me what’s real. He just said, ‘You just got to take one day at a time. You got to play as hard as you can.’ He is not one of the tallest receivers in the NFL, but he plays with a big heart and a chip on his shoulder every day. I can tell you that. He plays like that for one reason because he wants it more than the other guy does. That is one thing that will stick with me too.
Strauss : If you had to describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Lewis : Ice cream flavor… I don’t know. I’d probably be strawberry. I like strawberries, strawberry ice cream, and chocolate-covered strawberries, so it has to be strawberries.
Strauss : During your senior year, you were excused by the team for academic responsibilities. What do you think the most important thing you’ve learned from that was?
Lewis : I learned to take academic very seriously, because if not, you won’t be playing this game long, especially if you are still in high school, or anything like that.
Strauss : What was that like when you found out you weren’t going to be playing on the team to finish the season?
Lewis : It was devastating when they told me that. But, I played, I finished the season though.
Strauss : You came back to the team?
Lewis : Yeah. It was only like a couple of days. Basically, I just had to finish work and stuff. It wasn’t anything too big where they said you couldn’t play anymore. But still, it was for a reason, it was for academics. I should have taken my academics very seriously.
Strauss : Towards the end of the last season, you had an injury. How is it doing?
Lewis : My foot is doing fine. My knee is doing fine. I am basically back up to par now.
Strauss : Back to a full 100%?
Lewis : I am back to 100%. I’m back to planting, cutting, running, stuff like that. Everything is fine. I had to wear a knee brace. I had to get my knee back stronger so I wouldn’t have to wear a knee brace. I did that, so I don’t need to wear a knee brace or anything like that.
Strauss : Since you have been in an interesting journey, what advice can you give someone who wants to play D1 football?
Lewis : For somebody who wants D1 football, I’d tell them to keep doing what you are doing, but grind even harder. These days, nothing comes easy. Whatever you’re doing, you have to work for it. That’s exactly what you have to do. Keep their head clear, and just take one day at a time.
Strauss : Is there anything else you want to tell your fans we have not talked about?
Lewis : Just keep the support coming. I still have fans telling me that one day I’ll play in the NFL. I’m praying and I’m hoping. I love the support, and I hope it stays like that.
Strauss : Thanks again for your time Lance. I really appreciate it.
Lewis : Alright, thank you.
Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Lance Lewis. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website www.prointerviews.org/ for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProInterviews/, and follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/ProInterviews/. Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me!
->;Here are the personal questions that Lance Lewis answered.<;-
Strauss : If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Lewis : I don’t know. It might have to be Rihanna. I just want to see who she really is in person.
Strauss : Who is your role model growing up?
Lewis : My role model growing up was my mother. I grew up watching how hard she worked. She worked three or four jobs, and I saw that she was able to get through anything. Because of that, I learned that I could do the same thing. Hopefully, one day she can depend on me and she won’t have to work anymore.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite TV show?
Lewis : Family Guy. I don’t really have a favorite character though. I just enjoy the show.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite movie of all time?
Lewis : Definitely the movie, Juice with Tupac.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite type of pie?
Lewis : I like apple pie.
Strauss : If you could choose, what would your last meal on earth be?
Lewis : I’m a big fan of lobster and shrimp, so it might have to be that.
Strauss : If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Lewis : I would want the power like in the movie Jumper. Basically, how it works is that if you wanted to be anywhere, all you have to do is think about it, and you teleport yourself there.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite song you listen to before a game?
Lewis : Yeah. I actually have a few. I listen to a bunch of Waka Flocka [Flame]. However, I don’t really have a favorite one that I listen to before a game.