On the surface, Rayshad Lewis appeared to have a budding career as a wide receiver at Utah State last fall.
He had moved across the country after being lightly recruited out of Bishop Moore Catholic in Orlando, but nonetheless won a starting role by the end of the Aggies’ season. Lewis solidified himself as one of the Mountain West Conference’s promising young receivers after posting 40 catches for 476 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and moreover, his work ethic reminded his father, none other than Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, of himself.
Despite that production, Rayshad had confided in his father that he was not completely happy and needed a change. They deliberated for a few weeks after the season and decided to seek a transfer to a shortlist of Power Five schools.
“Him being at Utah State, the first year and everything, any time you have a kid that far away from home, the one thing you want to do is at least be happy. He was just not happy, really like, ‘Dad, I just want to try to do something else.’ As a father, you’re saying, ‘Son, we got to finish this. But I understand,’” Ray Lewis said Friday in an interview with The Post’s Adam Kilgore.
“We waited until the time permitted itself to where there were no violations or anything like that. We picked out three or four schools he was thinking about. At the end of the day, we ended up going on a recruiting trip at Maryland.”
When Rayshad finished his visit to College Park, he instantly knew it was where he wanted to continue his career. He had built a solid rapport with the staff, and it was conveniently close to where his father starred for 17 years with the Baltimore Ravens.
“When he walked out of there, he was like, ‘This is where I want to be.’ I was like, ‘Guess what, son? I live down the road. That’s amazing.’ It was a perfect setup for him,” Ray Lewis said.
Rayshad Lewis committed to Maryland in early May, but his transfer was made official on Wednesday, along with former Florida State defensive back Marcus Lewis. While both players will have to sit out the 2017 season due to NCAA transfer rules, both are expected to contribute immediately once they become eligible in 2018.
Rayshad Lewis — who has three years of eligibility remaining — also considered Florida, Florida Atlantic and South Florida as potential landing spots. But aside from the proximity to Baltimore, Ray Lewis also grew comfortable with the direction the program was headed under second-year Coach DJ Durkin.
“DJ, he’s a players’ coach. He’s the ultimate of that. That’s why I think Maryland will really thrive. He’s just such a genuine person,” Ray Lewis said.
Maryland is also inheriting an explosive player who should fit into Walt Bell’s up-tempo scheme. While Rayshad Lewis is undersized at 5 feet 10, 165 pounds, he showed his playmaking ability as a freshman at Utah State, averaging 11.9 yards per catch and recording eight catches that went for 20 yards or more. His 40 catches for 476 yards are both freshman records at the school, which he was willing to leave behind for a new start at a bigger program.
“It’s refreshing for him. He calls me every day — ‘Dad, I did this, I did that.’ I just wanted him to have an opportunity to be on that stage,” Ray Lewis said. “You think about Maryland playing Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, all those big-time schools. You get on there, and you make your name known.”
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