FAU Signing Day LIVE!: Profiles of each FAU signee
BOCA RATON – Less than one year removed from being shot in the back, Tampa Tech linebacker Joe Lewis signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play football at FAU.
“I’m ready to work, come down there, and tell my story,” Lewis said.
Tampa Tech coach Jayson Roberts says Lewis had barely exited his car at a May post-prom party in Tampa when gun shots sent the crowd scrambling.
“Wrong place at the wrong time,” Lewis said.
One bullet ricocheted into Lewis’ back.
“He just got in his car and left and went to his cousin’s house,” Roberts said.
Not long afterward Roberts headed to the hospital. News of the shooting shocked Roberts.
“What? Joe Lewis?” Roberts recalls thinking. “Because he’s not that kind of kid.”
Lewis underwent emergency surgery at a local hospital. He spent two weeks hospitalized, losing 25 pounds from his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame. Fortunately, the bullet missed his spine and internal organs.
Having only days prior overcome the academic hurdles that threatened to keep him from enrolling at FAU during the summer, Lewis spent hours following the shooting lying in his hospital bed wondering whether what he often refers to as “the incident”would prevent him from ever reaching Boca Raton.
“I was worried,” Lewis said. “I thought that everything was going to fall apart.”
Neither Lewis nor FAU let that happen.
FAU coaches, led by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, talked with Lewis’ mother when Lewis wasn’t able to speak and sent encouraging texts to Lewis, helping him through those worrisome hospital days.
“He was one of us,” Spencer said. “He was in the family and had committed to us. I was first concerned with his health and then when I heard he could make a full recovery of course that made us even happier to know that he could get well and join us.”
By September Lewis had started working out again, motivated by the knowledge that FAU still had a spot for him.
“It was just coach Spencer keeping faith in me ever since the incident,” Lewis said.
Lewis originally delivered his verbal commitment to FAU assistant Keynodo Hudson during the summer of 2018, but when Hudson left for Illinois, Spencer took control of Lewis’ recruitment.
“They stuck by him,” Roberts said. “They knew it wasn’t him getting himself in a situation, because he didn’t do anything wrong.”
Lewis says he has no permanent injuries from the shooting. His weight is up to 215, which is where Lewis wants it. A linebacker who can also play safety, Lewis attended two FAU games this season and plans to arrive in Boca Raton for the spring semester.
On Wednesday Lewis was the first of nine FAU signees to send the Owls an NLI during the first day of the early signing period.
“It felt great,” Lewis said of signing the document. “Everything I worked for, it’s a sigh of relief getting back on my feet.”
He’ll arrive at FAU with a greater appreciation for the game of football – and life in general.
“I’m here now,” Lewis said. “I’ve got a testimony to tell.”
Along with the nine signees, FAU also announced on Wednesday that former Cincinnati wide receiver Yanez Rogers would be transferring to the Owls.
FAU’s signing class could add another prominent member on Thursday. Miami-Killian RB Frank Gore, son of the future NFL Hall-of-Famer, signed his letter of intent on Wednesday but will wait until a ceremony at the school on Thursday to announce his choice. On Tuesday night Gore told OwlAccess.com that FAU was “definitely” a possibility.
Southfield (Mich.) quarterback Anthony Romphf de-committed from FAU on Tuesday night and signed with Purdue on Wednesday. He’ll play defensive back for the Boilermakers.