Sentinel: You are obviously not quite as big as your dad (5-foot-9, 190 pounds), but you seem to be such a student of the game, like your dad. How do you bring that to the field?

Lewis: “I’ve heard that I’m slow. I’ve heard that I’m small. I’ve heard many different things, but when you don’t let anybody outwork you , when you study the game, when you make it a thinking man’s game, you’ll be amazed at how far you can go, at what you can do. . . . If I know what you are going to do before you do it, it doesn’t matter how small I am if I get there first.

Ray Lewis III, Lake Mary Prep, University of Miami, photo

Ray Lewis III of Lake Mary Prep will sign with the University of Miami on Wednesday, National Signing Day. (STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL)

“It’s not all about running that 4.2 [seconds in the 40-yard dash]. It’s not always about getting that 45-inch vertical. It’s not always about benching that 225 [pounds] 45 times. It’s not about that at all. It’s about the effort and the heart and the passion and what you are willing to put into it. The right preparation prevents poor performance.”


Sentinel: What is your earliest memory when you figured out that, “OK, what my dad does is  a big deal.”

Lewis: “I guess I’d have to say at the Super Bowl in Tampa. I don’t have a real good memory of it, but I remember thinking at the time, like when we were walking out on the field and everybody was all around, that this is pretty big.

“I had some guy ask me to sign something for like $300 or something . . . [laughing] . . . I was like 5 years old, but I could comprehend what a big deal it was.”


Sentinel: Do you sometimes wish you had gone to a Class 8A school, a bigger school than Lake Mary Prep (2A)?

Lewis: “No I really don’t wish I was at an 8A school. I’m glad I’ve stayed at Lake Mary Prep. I picked Lake Mary Prep for multiple reasons. I feel like if I went to an 8A school, it would have been more about winning games rather than bettering myself as a football player and as an individual.

“At an 8A school, you’ve got 60-some players on the team and coaches don’t even know first and last names of all of them sometimes. They just call them by jersey numbers. … At Lake Mary Prep, we had 17 players suited up by our last game of the season. We were 11-0, but coaches actually bettered me as a player with individual work and bettered me as a person for life after football, life after high school. I’m only going to be able to play football for so long. … A lot of NFL players, after they’re done with football, they don’t know what to do.”


Sentinel: And from all of that, it had to help make you a better leader?

Lewis: “Oh yeah, most definitely. I feel like I was at an advantage to stay at Lake Mary Prep. It made me a better leader. … I just feel like it was a great environment that we had all the way around.

“You can say it’s the players, but it’s really not, because the coaches … what they did with that entire program … five years ago, if you said Lake Mary Prep, people would be like, ‘What’s that?’ … Now, you look at Lake Mary Prep, and you’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s where Coach Buck Gurley coaches, right?” … and that’s because of where they have taken it. They didn’t do anything with the players, they just put the correct attitude in the players.”


Sentinel: You’ve played numerous different positions in high school. What are they looking for you to play at Miami?

Lewis: “We’re still talking about it. I’m be recruited as an athlete right now. We really don’t even know. I’ve talked to the running backs coach [Terry Richardson] and he’d love to have me at running back. I’ve talked to the receivers coach [Brennan Carroll] and he’d love to have me at some slot. ... [head] Coach [Al] Golden would love to have me at some DB, so I’m gonna go down there and play it out and see where I go. I know I’m definitely going to be on special teams. We definitely had that conversation.”


Sentinel: And so, obviously, it makes for a good situation for you to have such versatility.

Lewis: “Definitely, it makes you a better football player all-around. It helps you know what that person is thinking when they are at that position on the other side. For example, I can play linebacker, but I also play receiver, so I know when I’m at receiver if somebody is cheating out, or what kind of angle I might want to take to the seam, or something like that. If I’m at linebacker, I can beat him to that position and jam him off his route because I know what he’s thinking. Different things like that helps you really become a more versatile player of the game to know more positions.”


Sentinel: In your heart, do you have a favorite position?

Lewis: “Not really. In my heart I’m a football player. You put me at defensive end, I’m not going to let anybody get outside of me. You put me at linebacker, I’m gonna shed off the blocker and go make the tackle. You put me at safety, I’m going to go intercept the ball. … In my heart, I don’t really feel like there is a set position. You might be able to put me in a set position by how I play, but in my heart if you put me on the field and I don’t know it, I’m gonna learn it, but most likely, I’ve already learned it.”

  

Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at chays@tribune.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.