Daniel Lewis started as a sophomore last year for Class 5A New Iberia Senior High and head coach Rick Hutson.
The Yellow Jackets went 8-3 and garnered the No. 23 seed in the 5A playoff bracket. NISH lost the postseason opener to a salty No. 10 Ouachita squad, but the Yellow Jackets could go deeper this year with players like Lewis and '13 LB Dre Fusilier returning.
With Fusilier and Lewis leading the charge, NISH held five of eleven opponents to single-digit scoring.
Lewis (5-11, 185), who enjoyed a stellar season in 2011, has continued to excel during the offseason. He shined at the National Underclassmen Combine Five-Star Showcase a few months ago at Zachary (La.) High School.
As a result of that outing, Lewis was invited to participate in the next rung on the NUC ladder: the Ultimate 100, which was held recently in Dallas.
Lewis proved his worth at the Ultimate 100 - and was subsequently rewarded with an invite to the elite NUC "Top Prospect Camp" in Norman, Oklahoma.
"I'm planning on going to the Top Prospect Camp on July 21st," said Lewis a few days ago at the NISH 7-on-7 Tourney. "I've talked to my parents about going to LSU's July camp, but I don't know because I think it's the same dates as the Top Prospect Camp."
Who are some early favorites for Lewis?
"I like the in-state schools," he said. "LSU, of course. I like what UL (Ragin' Cajuns in nearby Lafayette) is doing with their new coach (Mark Hudspeth). I like Louisiana Tech a lot; also, Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Mississippi State."
Lewis hasn't gotten any interest yet from college recruiters, but it's only a matter of time before his name is well-known on the recruiting scene.
"I had three interceptions last year with a pick-six against Lafayette (28-0 non-district win in week two vs. the 5A Lions)," said Lewis. "My other two interceptions were against (cross-town and district rival) Westgate and Thibodaux (district foe).
"I was the fourth-leading tackler on the team (behind Fusilier and a couple of other older players). I had seven deflections. Our coaches call them 'dropped interceptions,' which they basically are."
Lewis received great feedback from the staff at the Ultimate 100.
"I was getting a lot of compliments during the drills," he said. "And then, I got 27 reps on the bench press (with 155 lbs. - '13 prospects bench 185 lbs.).
"That was the second-best number of reps among the skill players (including DBs and LBs). A linebacker from Kansas had 42 reps. The coaches at the combine were telling me that I'm big and strong - and look like a safety."
While Lewis can play safety, he prefers corner, and he's also expected to carry the football a considerable number of times this fall on offense at RB.
"We should do really well," he said of the 2012 outlook for the Yellow Jackets. "We have a lot of returning starters. Dre and I will be used in the running game to complement our passing attack. Once we get a lead, we like to run out the clock with the 'ground and pound.'"
Lewis takes pride in being a well-rounded student-athlete.
"I made a 20 on the ACT my first time, but I'm taking it again," he said. "I scored in the top percentile on the PSAT for my age group. I'm getting a lot of mail from colleges about their engineering programs. I take all honors classes.
"I try to be a great kid who is very involved in the local community - and active with church."
Lewis was not satisfied with his effort at last week's 7-on-7.
"I felt like I didn't do as well as I wanted," he stated. "Earlier in the week, we played St. Thomas More (Lafayette, La.) in 7-on-7 -- and I rolled my ankle, although I played the rest of the day.
"The ankle was completely swollen on Thursday (date of the second 7-on-7) and my coach didn't want me to play, but I taped it all up and went out there."