Lewandowski can't pass on Maryland offer
Major college football recruiters passed on a prolific passer two years ago.
Evan Lewandowski tallied school-record totals of 2,786 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes but 0 scholarship offers from NCAA Division I schools in leading Lake Zurich to the Class 7A state championship game in 2017.
"I think I was pretty close on a few on those radars," Lewandowski said. "I guess it just happened to be that there were some [recruits] that [college coaches] thought would develop faster than me and be better than me at that level. I feel more prepared now to play at that level. But I think I was always ready, at least mentally."
Now, the quarterback who had no D-I opportunities gets the chance to prove there is no doubt he can play at college football's highest level. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Lewandowski has accepted an offer from the University of Maryland after putting together a breakout season for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (D III) last fall. He entered the transfer portal last December. Transfer rules will require Lewandowski to sit out for one academic year, and he will not be able to earn a scholarship until next year.
Last season, Maryland went 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten) under first-year head coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. The Terrapins have just two scholarship QBs on their roster.
"I feel like it's the best opportunity and best situation," said Lewandowski, adding he heard from schools at every level, including multiple FCS and FBS programs. "I can just tell (Locksley) knows how to run a good program."
After playing sparingly as a freshman at UW-La Crosse in 2018, Lewandowski busted out last season. He completed 54.7 % of his passes for 2,804 yards and 28 touchdowns (12 interceptions) in leading the Eagles to a 7-3 record (5-2 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). He got better as the season went along, and in Week 6 against UW-River Falls he passed for a program-record 591 yards and 9 TDs, which tied the NCAA D-III record.
"Where I was definitely better (last season) was at reading defenses," said Lewandowski, who was the captain of the 2017 Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team and earned all-state honors as well. "It's a little more complex at the college level and faster. I'm really trying to get down my run game for the next couple of years, especially because I'm going to have a year off. I feel like if I get my running ability down -- not to the point where it's like Lamar Jackson, but to the point where the defense has to say, 'I'm worried about this quarterback getting a first down with his feet as well as throwing the ball' -- I feel like my game will grow a lot from there."
Getting rejected by D-I coaches out of high school never fueled him, he says.
"Not really," Lewandowski said. "I feel like I always go into every practice, every game, every lifting session just wanting to become better myself and to help out the team or program that I'm a part of."