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View Full Version : Diamond wasn't forever: Kenny Lewis update



savafan
04-13-2006, 04:06 AM
http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArti cle&%09s=1045855934926&c=MGArticle&cid=1137835340087&path=!sports!colleges

BY MIKE HARRIS
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Apr 13, 2006

BLACKSBURG Kenny Lewis Jr. still was a professional baseball player when he stood in the tunnel at Lane Stadium with the Virginia Tech football team before the Hokies' game against North Carolina in November.

The tunnel connects the practice field with a game-ready Worsham Field inside the stadium. It's really nothing very special, except in those few moments just before a game. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" is playing over the loudspeaker as 65,000 fans jump in anticipation of the Hokies taking the field. The noise jacks up the players as they prepare to rush out, touching the Hokie Stone at the end of the tunnel on their way.

Lewis stood behind the players and coaches, taking all this in, reaffirming a decision that had pretty much already been made.

"They're getting all hyped up and I was like, 'I gotta be here,'" Lewis said.

And so he is, a Hokie tailback now and no longer a pro baseball player. Lewis, son of the former Tech tailback of the same name, originally signed in 2003 out of George Washington High in Danville. That was also the same year he was drafted in baseball's fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds.

Baseball, with a sizeable bonus and a promise to pay for Lewis' future education, won out if only temporarily. It was probably not a good sign for Lewis' baseball future that "the first day I signed my contract, I started missing football," he said. "Baseball was a good opportunity out of high school. I got a chance to see a lot of places and meet a lot of people. I couldn't turn it down."

Three seasons, a .233 batting average and 65 stolen bases in 156 games later, Lewis decided it was time to put on pads. He had a brief stint in Class AA. Most of his baseball time was spent in rookie and Class A leagues. Maybe it would have turned around, maybe not.

Lewis just knew his heart wasn't in it anymore.

He enrolled at Tech in January, at the Reds' expense so he doesn't count against the Hokies' scholarship limit. Technically, the 5-9 185-pounder is a walk-on. An ankle sprain ended his participation in spring drills early, and he won't play in Saturday's 2 p.m. Maroon-White game at Lane. He saw enough action to know he was happy to be a football player again.

"I'm really glad they were willing to give me this opportunity," Lewis said. "Even when I was playing baseball, I knew where my heart was. It wasn't that baseball wasn't working out. It's just that my heart wasn't really with it.

"I'm not going to be able to do my best if I'm doing something I don't love. I enjoyed baseball, being around the guys and the competition. I didn't love baseball. I love football. My dad played, and I remember him working with me when I was little. The first day of practice, I had a smile on my face the whole time just because I was out there. I look at it as a privilege to play and be on the field with these guys."

Lewis went into baseball with his father's blessing and encouragement. "He said baseball means longevity," Lewis said.

He returned to football with the same blessing and encouragement.

Kenny Lewis Sr. rushed for 1,020 yards in 1978, the same year he set a single-game record of 223 yards that lasted until Kevin Jones broke it in 2003.

Lewis Sr. had 10 games of at least 100 yards.

"He still jokes with me, says let me see you get a record that is going to last that long," Lewis Jr. said, "just playing around with me.

He was pretty good. Let's face it, any time you follow somebody's footsteps who was great, there's going to be pressure. Plus, he's my role model. I want to do what he did."

Tech running backs coach Billy Hite, who started working at Tech during Lewis Sr.'s final year, said Lewis Jr. showed rust before he was hurt. But flashes of talent also were evident.

"The speed," Hite said, "is outstanding."

Where Lewis fits into the pecking order won't be determined until preseason.

He could fit into the rotation, he could return kicks, he could even sit out a season as a redshirt. All he knows for sure is he's a football player again, and that's good enough for now."This is great," he said. "I'm getting my education, and I'm getting to do what I love."

kheidg-
04-16-2006, 01:56 AM
http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArti cle&%09s=1045855934926&c=MGArticle&cid=1137835340087&path=!sports!colleges

Baseball, with a sizeable bonus and a promise to pay for Lewis' future education, won out if only temporarily. It was probably not a good sign for Lewis' baseball future that "the first day I signed my contract, I started missing football," he said. "Baseball was a good opportunity out of high school. I got a chance to see a lot of places and meet a lot of people. I couldn't turn it down."

Henrolled at Tech in January, at the Reds' expense so he doesn't count against the Hokies' scholarship limit. Technically, the 5-9 185-pounder is a walk-on.



Anyone know if the Reds and other MLB teams usually do this when try to sign later draftpicks thinking of going to college?