Back Michael Austin Lewis, A True Pioneer

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Michael Austin Lewis, A True Pioneer

By Barry Every
SouthernPigskin.com
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Despite being named 5A First Team All-State while recording 100 tackles, 14 TFL’s and five sacks Lewis has only garnered DI offers from Army, Colorado State, UMass, Navy and Texas-San Antonio.

It can be a daunting task for high school prospects to grab the attention of college coaches. Playing football for a school that really has no tradition of winning makes that quest seem like an impossible feat.

That’s just one of the issues that plague the recruitment of 6-foot-6, 230-pounds defensive end Michael Austin Lewis, II of Jonesborough (Tenn.) David Crockett. Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee is located south of Johnson City near the North Carolina border. It’s a far cry from recruiting hotbeds of Memphis and Nashville.

Last season the Pioneers managed to make the playoffs for only the second time in 13 seasons finishing with a (4-7) overall record. With only two winning seasons in the past decade change was in the air. This past January the Pioneers named Kingsport native and eight-year NFL veteran Gerald Sensabaugh as its new head coach.

With the addition of a new coach came renewed commitment to the weight room and assignment football. Coach Sensabaugh is bringing the high energy atmosphere he experienced while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys.

“Austin is a high-motor guy that wants to play at the highest level; he has already put on 25 pounds from last season,” Sensabaugh said. “The sky's the limit for him and I look forward to sharing what I learned from my experiences. I’m just so glad to be part of his process; schools are coming in like crazy to check him out.”

Despite being named 5A First Team All-State while recording 100 tackles, 14 TFL’s and five sacks Lewis has only garnered DI offers from Army, Colorado State, UMass, Navy and Texas-San Antonio. He is currently receiving serious interest from Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. FCS schools Austin Peay, Chattanooga, Cornell, EKU and ETSU half also thrown their hats in the ring for his services.

“The staffs that are doing a great job right now recruiting me are Army and Chattanooga,” Lewis said. “Coach David Corley is doing a great job; he just seems like a straight up guy of high character. And the whole staff for the Mocs’ is really getting after it. They are young guys that show so much energy and intensity.”

This spring Lewis has unofficially visited Eastern Kentucky and Memphis with plans on hitting Colorado State, North Carolina and Tennessee this summer. He has already signed up for one-day camps at South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

“I’d love to hear more from UNC and Virginia Tech,” Lewis said. “I hear great things from Coach Sensabaugh about Chapel Hill and Virginia Tech is a great program that is close to home.”

But right now Lewis needs to be focused on improving his skill set while playing assignment football. In the past he was the crazy berserker chasing the ball all over the field.

“We have been working real hard on the skills of reading blocks,” Sensabaugh said. “He has a lot of tools and could even project as a tight end at the next level. I already see a kid that is two-times better than last season.”

And the lengthy giant with Viking-like hair concurs with his new coach.

“I chased everything and my technique was simply not there,” Lewis said. “I have to be more disciplined and learn how to get off blocks quicker. I shouldn’t have had 100 tackles last year, but instead caused more disruption in the backfield.”

Coach Sensabaugh understands what it takes to excel at the highest level of college football and the NFL. Like Lewis he was an under recruited athlete from the mountains of Tennessee. His wisdom and experiences will surely aid Lewis in his quest for gridiron greatness.