Earlier this month Middletown High School rising senior Ben Lewis accepted a full athletic scholarship to play football for traditional Big East Conference power Syracuse University in the fall of 2012.
It won't be a surprise if defensive coordinators in the area are happy to see him leaving for college after he caught 48 passes for 911 yards and 13 touchdowns last year while helping the Knights advance to the Class 2A state championship game.
The future Orange wideout spoke with The Gazette about his decision to continue his football career in upstate New York.
Gazette: Ben Lewis; Syracuse wide receiver. How does that sound?
Ben Lewis: You know it sounds pretty unreal, to tell you the truth. It's crazy to think about that I'm going to a Division I school and I'm going to really play football and get a full-ride to college.
GZ: How did Syracuse come onto your radar?
BL: Syracuse invited me to a one-day camp up there. My uncle [Bill Lewis] who actually played in the pros, knows the wide receivers coach [Rob Moore] up there. He called him before I went up and let me introduce myself before camp. I went up there, performed well and they really like me. I met with Coach Moore in D.C. and they wanted me to come up for a visit. I did, and they offered me the scholarship.
GZ: When did you realize that you could play college football on the biggest stage?
BL: I always felt like I had that potential, but I didn't really realize it until I started going to some big time camps and going against the recruits there — these highly ranked cornerbacks — and beating them one-on-one.
GZ: Syracuse is coming off a solid season in which it went 8-5 and won the Pinstripe Bowl, but has struggled over the past decade. Do you like being part of a program on the rebound?
BL: Absolutely. Coach [Doug] Marrone has turned the program around. He's bringing discipline to the team. The program is under the radar a little bit, but due for a big-time year.
GZ: Does committing this early make it easier for you this year at Middletown?
BL: Absolutely. I wanted to get the whole college thing wrapped up before the season for that reason. It's a big weight off my back and now I can just go and focus on winning a state championship.
GZ: I've spoken with other prominent recruits over the past few years and they said recruiting has almost become a full-time job. Do you feel the same?
BZ: Yeah, it's nuts. Pretty much all I did in June was speak with coaches, answer emails and all that stuff.
GZ: Is it fun, or a burden?
BL: It's fun, but it's stressful. It's pretty cool when coaches call and want to talk to you. They email you and send you letters. It's stressful at the same time because you have so many coaches pressuring you to do this or do that. You have to do things one at a time.
GZ: Aside from football, what was it about Syracuse?
BL: The communications program. That's kind of what I want to do. I want to be a sports broadcaster and Syracuse has one of the top communications programs in the country. Most of the Sportscenter guys went to Syracuse and once I heard that, it really caught my eye.
GZ: Tough winters though up there.
BL: [Laughing] I'm not too big on the three feet of snow during the winter, but I'll have to deal with it.
GZ: Have you decided if you'll play basketball this year at Middletown?
BL: I haven't totally decided yet, but I think I'm going to.
GZ: How much of a help has [Middletown] Coach [Kevin] Lynott been through this process?
BL: He's been a huge help. When this all started back in the spring he was on the phone, calling coaches every day. He really helped me get on the map and provided me the opportunity to get where I am now.