ORONO, Maine — Xavier Lewis’ father, Mark, was a second-team All-Yankee Conference defensive lineman at the University of Maine in 1988.
The Bangor native is hoping he can find his way into the Black Bear lineup someday as a safety.
Lewis and the Black Bears took to Morse Field at Alfond Stadium on Monday for the team’s first practice.
UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove said he understood Lewis had intended to walk on when school started on Sept. 2.
“We had an opening on the roster. You are allowed to have 95 guys here, and we had 94,” explained Cosgrove. “So I reached out to the folks at Bangor High to see if he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Lewis said he was notified of the opening by Bangor High School athletic director Steve Vanidestine last Thursday, and he jumped at the chance.
“I’m definitely excited,” said the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Lewis. “This is a great opportunity. I feel blessed right now, especially since my dad came up here. I want to follow in his footsteps a little bit.”
Lewis also had considered playing basketball at Husson University in Bangor.
He said playing in the Lobster Bowl and helping the East earn a 32-13 victory over the West last month was instrumental in his decision to pursue football.
“That helped me [a lot] … for everything. Not just being on the field … but moving into my room … meeting new teammates,” said Lewis, who had two interceptions in the game. “The Lobster Bowl definitely did it for me.”
It also helped him to stay in football shape.
Lewis starred in both football and basketball at both Bangor High School and Lawrence High School of Fairfield, where he spent his junior year.
He was a quarterback and strong safety at Bangor last season after being a wingback and safety at Lawrence as a junior two years ago.
He said he is comfortable at safety because “that’s where I’ve played since my sophomore year.”
He is optimistic about his chances to play at Maine someday.
“I like being at the bottom of the depth chart. It will make me work harder. Nothing is going to be handed to me,” said Lewis. “I’m lucky to be here. I want to work my way up the depth chart.
Mark Lewis was a former Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist at Bangor High before going to Maine.
The “Fitzy” goes to the state’s top senior football player.
The 18-year-old Xavier Lewis said he was a little bit nervous before he arrived in Orono, but former Lawrence High School teammate Spencer Carey and Bangor High mate Matt Cosgrove made his transition easier; so did Thornton Academy of Saco’s Dakota Tarbox, who played against Lewis’ Lawrence team in the 2012 Class A state championship game.
Cosgrove said Lewis is a good athlete.
“I’ve seen him play football and basketball. Obviously, there’s a lot of learning in front of him. He has to have the willingness to put the time in. There have been a number of young players who have come here, maybe not as highly recruited as they would have liked to have been, that have flourished and done well, and I hope that happens for him,” said Cosgrove.
Cony’s Lucas not in camp
One player who isn’t listed on the UMaine roster is 2013 Fitzpatrick Trophy recipient Ben Lucas of Cony High School in Augusta, who signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Maine in February.
Lucas threw for 3,357 yards and 41 touchdowns in leading Cony to its first state championship since 1932.
Cony coach Rob Vachon said Monday night that Lucas is considering surgery on his injured throwing shoulder.
The 6-4, 230-pound Lucas passed for 7,575 yards and 89 touchdowns during his career and also helped lead the East to its Lobster Bowl triumph.
Cosgrove said he couldn’t comment on the situation.
“I’m not in position to make a comment because I don’t have any information,” said Cosgrove.