Posted: 4:29 pm Friday, December 28th, 2012
By Jeff Greer
Tommylee Lewis never thought he’d play in a BCS bowl game, especially so quickly.
But Lewis, a 5-foot-7, 155-pound return man and receiver for the upstart Northern Illinois Huskies, will take on his old Dwyer classmate and friend Nick O’Leary and FSU in next week’s Orange Bowl. Here’s a clip from today’s story in the Palm Beach Post:
Pandemonium broke out around Tommylee Lewis when ESPN revealed this season’s Orange Bowl participants: Florida State and Lewis’s Northern Illinois Huskies.
His phone rang nonstop. Family and friends asked for tickets. Old coaches offered congratulations. Social media buzzed.
No moment was sweeter than Lewis’s conversation with his old Dwyer classmate Nick O’Leary, the starting tight end for FSU.
“Honestly, I can’t even describe his response,” Lewis said with a laugh. “He couldn’t believe it.”
The Lewis-O’Leary connection is the perfect subplot for this year’s most unexpected bowl game, a contest perfectly scripted for sports media hoping for a David vs. Goliath matchup. Northern Illinois has won four bowl games in its history and played in seven; Florida State claims two national titles, 25 bowl wins and 35 consensus All-Americans.
Lewis is no more than 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, and Northern Illinois, according to Dwyer football coach Jack Daniels, was the only FBS program seriously interested in Lewis. O’Leary’s a rock-solid 6-4, 240, and his list of college scholarship offers took a few minutes to read.
“It’s almost too perfect,” said Lewis, who starts at receiver and returns kickoffs for NIU. “We hear ‘Cinderella story’ a lot.”
Of course we were first introduced to Tommylee’s story when he was a senior at Dwyer, competing against his brother Martavius in the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast All-Star Game.