Jeremy Lewis is one of the local products currently on ECU’s football roster. A standout two-way player at South Central High School, Lewis completed his true freshman campaign in 2019 serving as the primary back-up to Anthony Watley and Zech Byrd.

Both a pass-catcher and linebacker at South Central, Lewis dropped his pass-rushing capabilities and traded them for pass protection assignments as a tight end in Mike Houston’s offensive scheme.

That does not mean tight ends fail to play an important role in the Pirates’ offense — Byrd caught 11 passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns last season — it just means you will likely see them blocking a significant amount in the run game.

Lewis, who racked up over 2,000 receiving yards at the prep level, came out of high school as the 59th-best player in the state of North Carolina, according to ESPN.com. He turned down offers from the likes of Duke, UNC and Tennessee to play for the Pirates and stay local.

A somewhat injury-embattled season greeted Lewis in his first in purple and gold. He did not make his first collegiate catch until game No. 7 of the season against UCF. Two receptions and 28 yards later, however, Lewis had his feet wet at the college level, and went on to haul in three more passes and a touchdown later in the campaign to finish with five catches, 39 yards and a score as a freshman.

Nothing to shake your head in his initial year on campus, Lewis is learning how to push through those minor injuries that limited him during portions of last year.

“He’s battled some nagging stuff during preseason camp,” Houston said on Tuesday. “The difference between this year and last year is last year he let the little stuff — twisted ankle, strained hip flexor, something like that — he let that stuff hold him out last year. He pushed through it during preseason camp, we were able to get him some rest over the weekend, get him back going full-speed. Feel good about the kind of preseason camp he’s had.”

With Byrd still likely ahead of him on the depth chart, Lewis will be used as the second tight end when ECU wants to present a big front or to provide extra blocking in the run game. If 2019 proved anything, however, it is that Lewis can make an impact catching passes, but as a sophomore, his time to shine may be a year or two down the line.

For 2020, expect Lewis to get a great deal of his playing time on special teams as he continues to provide depth for a tight end position group on the rise.

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