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June 15, 2009
Lewan making adjustment to college life
With the exception of the January enrollees, no members of the freshmen class will have farther to travel to their new home than the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral duo of Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh. Despite the distance, they are among the first to have shown up on campus after high school graduation.
"I got out here on Wednesday afternoon and I started practicing on Thursday," noted Lewan. "Craig came with me in the same flight and we stayed at the hotel together, then we split up. I don't know who he's staying with, but I'm staying with Patrick [Omameh] and Rocko [Khoury]. So we split up for a little bit, but we'll be rooming together in the fall."
With young players arriving early to acclimate to school and learn the system, one of the greatest advantages is in having the opportunity to work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis, and become more physically prepared for the rigors of college football.
"Yesterday I had my first Barwis workout," said Lewan on Saturday afternoon. "We lifted and then we did plyos (plyometrics) and ran. During plyos, my legs were so shaky I could barely walk. My legs were cramping up and everything. It's a huge program. This is going to make us all athletes. Twice as much the athletes that we all are."
Fitting in with the older teammates and learning the ins and outs of college life can be a challenge for true freshmen who show up in the summer. Among the youngest members of the class, that may be especially true for the freshman offensive lineman, who talked about his experience so far.
"I'm still 17-years old - I'm not even 18 yet," noted Lewan, who will celebrate his birthday on July 22. "These guys are 20, 21-years old. It's a little intimidating coming in at first. You go from a high school where you're a big stand out and everybody's looking at you the whole time. Coming to something like this, you're just another guy. You have to climb up the totem pole again.
"They haven't really told me much. They've kind of just been making fun of me a little bit. I'm the new guy now. I'm the first new offensive lineman to come in so I'm getting it a little bit from the guys, but so far, nothing too serious. I just do what I've got to do and don't give up."
Lewan has been given the No. 77 jersey, which has been worn in the past by offensive tackles such as Jake Long, Tony Pape, Jon Jansen and Trezelle Jenkins. He's already well aware of the history of the number and embraces the challenge of living up to expectations.
"It's a big responsibility wearing this number," explained Lewan. "Walking around here, even the players are like 'you better do something right with this number.' I'm all for the responsibility. I've got big shoes to fill and I hope I don't disappoint."
While it is extremely rare for offensive linemen to see action in their first year, Lewan plans to prepare for the possibility.
"We haven't talked about [playing time] yet," he noted. "Right now I'm 275 [pounds]. I need to gain about 10 more pounds if I want to play. That shouldn't be a problem at all, but really it's about me learning the system. If I can learn the system and take care of my responsibilities, and take care of everything that I need to do, there should be no reason why I shouldn't play."