BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
After getting a look at the University of Arkansas baseball program a second timeover the weekend, Nebraska 2024 prospect Tyson Lewis decided it should be his future home.
Lewis, a 6-2, 190-pound junior infielder, outfielder and right handed pitcher from Omaha’s Millard West High School, committed to the Razorbacks on Monday after attending an Arkansas camp a day earlier at Baum-Walker Stadium.
“We got an invite to go to a camp down there and did and it was just a great experience, getting to see all the facilities, getting to hang around with all the coaching staff again and catching up with them,” Lewis said. “I clicked really well with the coaches and it just felt right.”
“…I mostly play shortstop, but I think Arkansas sees me as a guy that can play all over the field. I can play every position on the dirt and all over the outfield. I think they see me as a guy who can play anywhere they need me.”
Lewis loved Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn’s approach.
“We got to talk to him a lot at the camp and he is just a straight shooter,” Lewis said. “He is going to tell you how it is and I respect that and I just really enjoy the program he has created there. He has really developed a program that is respected around the country.”
Lewis is looking forward to 2023 after missing the entire 2022 season due to an major back injury and then a surprise surgery.
“I fractured my L-5 vertrebra last February and it sidelined me for like five or six months,” Lewis said. “I really couldn’t do anything all spring and summer. And then a couple of months ago, right before school started, I actually had my appendix about burst and I had to go ahead get that removed. So that set me back, but I have bounced back from that and I am back to 100 percent now.
Lewis had to work hard regain his strength and weight.
“The biggest thing after the injury was probably strength,” Lewis said. “I was sidelined for so long that I couldn’t really do much and my weight was way, way down. I had to get back in the weight room and start eating right again to get that weight back up and get the strength back up that I had lost over the year. The strength is probably the biggest thing I had to work on.”
The back injury slowed down the recruiting process for Lewis according to his dad Peyton Lewis.
“Vanderbilt was pretty heavy on him and Tennessee, Mississippi State and LSU, where he talked to Jay Johnson quite a bit before the injury,” Peyton Lewis said. “That sidelined him and pretty much eliminated him from doing the Area Code games and the Futures Games. Going into it, he was a pretty highly-regarded recruit.
“…He kind of fell by the wayside and was forgotten for about eight months, but he never lost that dream of wanting to play big-time baseball and really wanted to play in the SEC and play in Omaha in front of those crowds. As an Omaha native, we go down there and watch that.
“That’s special and ultimately, well we hope he gets one this year or next year, but we would like to be a part of a team that can get Coach Van Horn a national championship.”
The visit showed the Lewis duo how much Arkansas fans love baseball.
“From what we got to see down there, they love their baseball down there,” Tyson Lewis said. “There was actually a young lady that came up to us while we were touring the campus. She was all fired up about the baseball team. She saw me in my baseball uniform and asking if I was a hog or not. That kind of gave us an idea of how they think about baseball down there in Fayetteville.”
Peyton Lewis also was impressed with the conversation.
“She said ‘where are you from?” And we said Omaha and she said ‘that is where we try to get every summer and hopefully you can come down help us get back.’ That was pretty amazing. His little brother Jackson, who is eight and was down with us and he loved it. He wanted to be a Husker, but now he wants to be a Razorback.”
The older Lewis is proud of how his son handled the injury and the recruiting process.
“Tyson is the type of kid that worked through quietly,” Peyton Lewis said. “He would get up in the morning at 4:30 or 5 a.m., work out and train with weights and cook himself breakfast to put that weight back on. He has a quiet confidence and just went about his business. Everybody around him was committing, but he just stayed with the process and didn’t waver and it paid off.”
Lewis is in his first semester at Millard West, a Nebraska baseball power.
“They actually have a really successful baseball program and won the state championship last season and a couple of seasons before that,” Lewis said. “They have got a really good program and several D-I guts that come out of there every year. I am just happy to be a part of that program as well.”