Eugene Lewis is such a dynamic prospect as a wide receiver that he is ranked among the best high school prospects in the country at the position ... and he didn't even play there for Wyoming Valley West last season.
As it turned out, Lewis was a pretty good quarterback, too. Playing the position out of necessity, he threw for 1,200 yards, ran just as much and accounted for almost 30 touchdowns. It was good enough to earn him second-team Class AAAA all-state recognition.
"He was able to grasp that in a year, and go on and do that and do some great things,'' Valley West coach Pat Keating said. "He's a very, very talented kid.''
Keating vows to use Lewis "all over'' in the upcoming season, but, it will be a lot easier to find him after that: He'll be back playing wide receiver at Penn State. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Lewis committed to the Nittany Lions during a visit on Wednesday afternoon, becoming the 14th member in a class that has since grown to 16.
"It's a great school, and it's close to home, so my family can come see me, and my friends and all my fans in my area. My area's a big Penn State community,'' said Lewis, whose school is in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton corridor. "And I've been there so much, I just feel so comfortable there. There was nowhere else I really wanted to be.''
In fact, Lewis estimates he's been at Penn State about 10 times over the last few years, not even counting his trips for Nittany Lions games. He's been on campus and around the coaches so much, he already felt like he was a member of the team - Wednesday's announcement just made it official.
A consensus four-star recruit rated the No. 61 prospect in the 2012 class by Scout.com and the fourth-best senior in the state according to Rivals.com, Lewis had 25 scholarship offers. He eventually picked Penn State out of a final five that also included Virginia Tech, Maryland, Oregon and Pitt.
Ironically, Virginia Tech was his favorite program when he was a young child growing up in Philadelphia. It only was when he moved in with his father, Eugene Sr., in the northeast corner of the commonwealth that his allegiance shifted.
"My dad is a big Penn State fan, too. So, when I came up here, I got in the same mode,'' Lewis said.
Unlike some players switching positions, Lewis is very well acquainted with playing receiver. He started for the Spartans at wideout as a sophomore, when he hauled in 31 receptions for 792 yards - a 25.5-yard average - and scored 11 touchdowns.
Penn State fans trying to come up with a previous Nittany Lion with which to compare Lewis most often seem to come up with Bryant Johnson. However, the combination of Lewis' current size, speed - he's timed 4.58 in the 40-yard dash - and footwork are perhaps better exemplified in the Oregon State product and current NFL star formerly known as Chad Johnson, now Chad Ochocinco.
"As a sophomore, he was very, very fluid in his routes into the open field. No. 2, he does an unbelievable job of going up and getting the ball up in the air,'' Keating said of Lewis.
Lewis, who also plays basketball, registered a 34-inch vertical jump at Nike's "The Opening'' camp in Oregon this summer. However, it's another Johnson Lewis tries to emulate in his playing style, Houston Texans' receiver Andre Johnson.
While Lewis and Andre Johnson have comparable height and leaping ability, Johnson is 35 pounds heavier. Lewis has narrowed the gap, putting on 10 pounds this summer, and hopes to be 200 pounds by the time he arrives at Penn State.
When he does move in at University Park, he won't lose much time getting acquainted with his new teammates. In addition to having been around the team on his frequent trips to Penn State, he's had a great deal of contact with fellow Lion 2012 recruits like Camren Williams, Nyeem Wartman, Skyler Mornhinweg and Armani Reeves; Reeves actually committed after Lewis, but both were long considered Penn State leans.
"It's a good relationship,'' Lewis said. "They talk about how good of a team we can really have.''