NORMAL — Illinois State football coach Brock Spack aggressively recruited Mitchell Lewis out of Naperville North High School. Spack even attended one of Lewis’ basketball games to show his interest.
Spack lost that battle when Lewis chose Miami of Ohio, but the setback was temporary. Lewis has left Miami and signed a scholarship agreement to transfer to ISU.
“We tried hard to get him (out of high school),” Spack said Tuesday. “Like several other really good transfers, we were able to get him on the rebound. We will get him up to speed with the passing game and blocking assignments as quick as we can.”
Lewis is a 6-foot-5, 251-pound tight end. He will three years of eligibility with the Redbirds. A three-star recruit out of high school, Lewis redshirted in 2017 and saw action in two 2018 games with the Red Hawks.
“I transferred because it just wasn’t the right fit for me personally,” said Lewis.
Spack believes Lewis adds another receiving option to the Redbird offense.
“He’s athletic, long, an excellent pass catcher and he can run,” the ISU coach said. “We can stand him up and play him outside as a receiver. We can play with multiple tight ends. Hopefully we can get some mismatches.”
Lewis is a product of the same high school as former Redbird tight end James O’Shaughnessy, now of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
“There are similarities,” said Spack. “James is a very good athlete. He became a very good blocker and special teams player (at ISU).”
Lewis listed his strengths as “in the receiving game and especially in the red zone.”
Lewis joins an ISU tight end position that includes junior Robert Gillum, sophomore Tanner Taula, redshirt freshmen Jacob Carl and Nathan Bax and junior college transfer Luke McCall.
“I really like our tight ends. You have to have at least four of those guys. Lewis just strengthens that group,” Spack said. “Rob has really taken off. He’s done very well this summer.”
Carl also has seen time at H-back, while McCall is considered primarily a blocking tight end.