February 15, 2011

Vols jump into mix for Jersey 'backer

Although Tennessee linebackers coach Peter Sirmon has only been an official coach for just over a week after being promoted from graduate assistant, he's already been actively recruiting for the Vols for a few months.

One player that's getting to know Sirmon well is Hammonton, N.J., linebacker Kaiwan Lewis.

"I've just talked to coach Sirmon, who just got the linebackers position," Lewis said. "I've been talking to him for quite some time. I talk to him like twice a week or something."

The early returns on the former Tennessee Titans linebacker from Lewis are good.

"He's a great guy; I think he's a great fit for the linebacker position. I have a great relationship with him. We can talk about anything. Sometimes we talk about his kids, we talk about things outside of football, things that can make me better," Lewis added. "Like I said, I have a great relationship with him. I think he's a great guy."

Sirmon was drafted in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft out of Oregon and spent seven seasons playing for the Titans. Lewis said that it's a big deal to know a position coach played in the NFL and knows what it takes to get from college to the pro rank.

"That does a great deal for me. That means, for me, that I'd have a guy coaching me that played the position and went all the way with it. I feel like I'd be learning from a great coach and a player," Lewis said.

Arkansas, Miami, South Carolina, UConn, Boston College, UCF, LSU and Tennessee have all offered Lewis and the 6-foot-2, 220-pound 'backer said that Tennessee, South Carolina, Boston College, LSU, Rutgers and Miami are all leading early.

Along with Sirmon, another reason Lewis said the Vols stick out to him is because of the tradition Tennessee boasts.

"First, I like the school and their tradition. Before this coaching staff when they had coach (Phillip) Fulmer, I just loved their tradition. Rocky Top, all that kind of stuff," Lewis said. "I was pretty attracted because of the tradition because my high school has a lot of tradition and that's why I came to this high school."

Lewis should know about tradition as his St. Joseph High School team has won back-to-back state championships and Lewis contributed 80 tackles, nine sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown and a blocked punt this season.

He said a big reason he is having the great success is because of his internal drive.

"I just feel like I have the will to win and I won't be defeated at any play. I'm just determined to do anything I can do on the field, in the classroom," Lewis said.

In high school, he plays the JACK position, usually lining up as an outside linebacker and rushing the quarterback, but feels he will probably play another position in college.

"It's fun, but at the college level I think my best fit is at the inside, that's what a lot of schools are telling me. I like that as well," Lewis said.

Lewis has already visited Rutgers and South Carolina but plans to see the colleges he's very interested in this spring and summer. He said Tennessee should be in that group and was planning to come to the junior day on Feb. 26 but won't be able to make it.

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