As Terrence Lewis saw the clock winding down in the Florida-Georgia Game, reality struck: it would be his last time ever lining up at Traz Powell Stadium. The Opa Locka native’s days of playing in South Florida were officially over, and the next step in his future had arrived.
“This is everything [to me],” Lewis told 305 Sports. “Everybody wants to be here, everyone wants to play here.”
Contrary to the Miami Northwestern helmet he used through the FL vs. GA event, Lewis attended Miami Central for his senior year, forming a top tier defense with 2022 prospect Wesley Bissainthe. The Rockets allowed just 11.4 points per game, forcing two shutouts en route to an 8-1 record and back-to-back 6A state titles.
Lewis played in six of those games, racking up 45 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and several hits on the QB. He added a third state title to his resume as well, along with an invitation to the All-American Bowl.
But just a few months before those accolades came about, Lewis and his team searched for answers following a crushing 21-14 loss to Miami Northwestern. It was the five-star inside linebacker’s chance to down his former teammates at Traz Powell, also known as the ‘Mecca’, but a sluggish offensive flow through the second half kept Central from getting over the hump. Things got harder from there, only playing one half of football vs. Miami Edison (14-0) and dealing with consecutive cancellations versus Immokalee and Archbishop McCarthy. That said, Lewis and his group entered postseason play with little preparation and high expectations, and still found a way to be competitive.
Then came a state semi-finals game against Palmetto at Traz. Routing past the Tigers 47-20, Lewis advanced into the state championship that closed a chapter in his career. All glory aside, that wasn’t his favorite memory at the beloved stadium, recalling a matchup when he was at MNW against Central when he was in 10th grade.
“Everybody thought we were going to lose,” he said.
Lewis is heading to play at the University of Maryland, having enrolled days after the FL vs. GA game. He selected the Terrapins over offers from just about every program in America, including Miami, Auburn and Tennessee. Several coaching shifts and changes in heart delayed his decision until January 2nd, but he ultimately chose the rising Big 10 program.
“They’re up-and-coming right now,” Lewis told NBC on what made Mike Locksley’s program standout. “I think they got a couple of good recruits, all they need is a little bit more to be one of the top teams in their conference. Hopefully, we can win a ring before I leave.”
Lewis, who’s ranked as the No. 1 ILB in 247Sports’ Composite rankings, heads to a place not very familiar to South Florida prospects. Having also added former Bulls WR Marcus Fleming via the transfer portal, Maryland holds six players from the area, including Lewis.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I get to meet a lot of new people, a new state, nobody really knows me so I get to build a new person out of town.”
And despite the inconsiderable amount of prospects with him from home and the 1,055.7 mile radius from Opa Locka, FL, Lewis is focused on representing where he came from.
“It means the most, I gotta represent,” he said. “I’m going to put on [for South Florida].
(Photo above: Sleeper Athletes, NBC, 305 Sports).