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Tommylee Lewis gives shock and surprise to NIU return game

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Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2011 6:01 pm

At the beginning of the year, no one really knew NIU football's number 80.

He quietly returned kicks with incredible speed for the Huskies in practice.

Now we know.

True freshman return specialist Tommylee Lewis, who is listed at 5-8, 170 pounds, got his chance to show what he could do against NIU opponents Saturday.

Lewis scored on a nine yard sweep play and returned kicks to give the Huskies good field position for most of the day.

Lewis patiently waited for the coaches to call his number, and when they did, he was thrilled and ready to play.

"It was exciting," Lewis said. "Through the whole week, as I was preparing on the scout team knowing I would play, but I was ready to take advantage of my opportunity."

NIU head coach Dave Doeren said he decided to play Lewis in the game partly because he was playing so well in practice and partly because Lewis gives the return game a speedy weapon of shock and surprise.

"I was just sick of trying to stop him in practice on the scout team," Doeren said. "I thought we needed a boost on our return game, and he plays hard; he's relentless, and with the system that we run, having him in on offense creates an issue for opposing teams. They're going to have to put a guy on him, and that guy is going to have to try to tackle him in space, and every time he touches it, it's going to be exciting."

Other NIU players agreed that Lewis adds another dimension to the team.

"Tommy is so fast, he just ignites our offense and our return game," said senior quarterback Chandler Harnish. "He's just another dimension that you have to defend, and he's another weapon for us which is huge, and he's so much fun to watch."

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