James Lewis Profile:
"(Mississippi State) started recruiting me about a month ago. A tape of mine was sent to them after the Miller's visited Mississippi State," said Lewis, who moved from one of the most dangerous areas of Los Angeles to live with MSU commitment Jimmy Miller's family during his senior season at Venice High School in Venice, California.
According to Carol Miller, during her son Jimmy's official visit to Mississippi State, they told Coach Croom about Lewis and promised to have a highlight tape sent.
Once the Mississippi State coaches received the tape, they, obviously, liked what they saw because they quickly got on the phone with Lewis and set up an in-home visit. The only thing keeping them from offering over the phone was wanting to make sure his academics were in order.
"They told me that they wanted to come down and look at my transcripts before offering. They came down last week and offered. I accepted then," said Lewis, who didn't graduate his senior season at Venice and moved in with his grandmother in Texas to re-take his senior year.
Why accept so quickly? Lewis had an immediate answer.
"Early playing time. I know they have been struggling with their receivers, so I know I should have a good chance of playing early," said Lewis, who earned Los Angeles Player of the Year from both the coaches and writers after catching 63 balls for 1,352 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2003, his senior season at Venice High School.
Although he has committed, he is still receiving a lot of recruiting attention from several schools, who, like MSU, recently found out about Lewis.
"Washington, Utah, Arizona and Texas A&M are still calling," said Lewis, who said his commitment is solid and that he will probably only visit one school, Mississippi State on January 14th. "Arizona and Texas A&M have come to my school. Arizona is supposed to come back and visit my home."
This is not the first time Lewis has been highly recruited. He also heard from several big-time schools his junior and senior seasons while playing ball in California.
"I was offered by Tennessee my junior year," said Lewis. "I was also recruited by Miami, UCLA, Oregon, USC for a little while, and Nebraska." (He also had offers from Oregon State, Arizona, Washington, Utah, Utah State, Wyoming and Arizona State. Louisville, Tulane and Cincinnati were other schools that showed strong interest.-Gene)
Due to his academic situation, a lot of schools backed off once his senior season rolled around. However, a few continued recruiting him with the hope that they could somehow get him in as a partial qualifier.
"Oregon State couldn't get me in academically," said Lewis, who initially committed to Oregon State. "Utah came along and thought they could get me in as a partial, but they said they couldn't do that after looking (at my transcripts). Utah State said they could prop me, but I decided if I was going to prop I would lose a year, so I decided to stay another year of high school and go through the whole recruiting thing again."
Since he didn't graduate from Venice High School, he was allowed to re-take his senior year. Because of family-related difficulties at his home in Los Angeles, he moved in with his grandmother in Texas while completing his second senior year. Not able to play football because his eligibility was used up, colleges lost sight of him and forgot about him.
But thanks to a helping hand by his good friends, the Miller's, Lewis, who has grown from 6-1, 204 to 6-2, 217 since his senior season at Venice HS, has gone from a wide receiver that all but disappeared at the conclusion of his true senior season to a guy that is just what the doctor ordered for a Mississippi State coaching staff that has been looking far and wide for big wide receivers.
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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.