LINCOLN — Papillion-La Vista football coach Jeff Govier hadn’t seen or heard much from Spencer Lewis that summer after Lewis transferred from Bellevue East.
All Govier knew was that Lewis was playing a lot of basketball, and the only reason he was becoming a Monarch was because basketball coach Jason Ryan had just gone from Bellevue East to Papillion-La Vista.
“Football at that time was completely up in the air,” Govier said. “We really didn’t know if he’d come out or not. He just kind of showed up that first day of two-a-days.”
He turned into a two-year starter at receiver who helped sophomore quarterback Alec Ditoro become the most prolific passer in Class A history last season. And in the process, Lewis decided his college future was in the sport that he previously considered a distant No. 2 behind basketball.
Lewis completed the paperwork Wednesday that puts him in a class of 13 known Nebraska football walk-ons for 2013. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is one of four Husker walk-ons out of the Metro Conference.
The second-team World-Herald All-Nebraska selection caught 65 passes for 951 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior, leading Class A in all three categories. The Monarchs used him as a slot receiver, and Govier said one of his underrated talents was his blocking.
Govier said Lewis’ build could suit him for a tight end/H-back role at NU.
“There’s a lot of potential for him to grow and improve his size,” Govier said. “He’s not a true tight end like a (Ben) Cotton, and not a true fullback like a (Andy) Janovich, but he is a kid that’s maybe a hybrid, a guy that can line up at all those positions.
“He was always going to be a mismatch with us. Put a safety on him, he’ll run him over. Put a linebacker on him, he can’t cover him.”
Lewis remains an important basketball player for the Monarchs, averaging 9.5 points, 5.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds a game for No. 3 Papillion-La Vista after moving to point guard for his senior season.
But it was last summer when he first came to Govier wondering if some schools might be interested in him for football. Eventually there were offers from North Dakota State and Northwest Missouri State before he picked NU.
“He was kind of humble about it,” Govier said. “He said, ‘If you think I can play somewhere, can you find out for me?’ I told him to focus on the season and we’ll see. Then he started getting all this attention and people calling him, and it was new to him.
“The FCS schools looked at him and just liked the fact that he was an athlete, that he could play three or four different positions, so for those guys he would be a steal. At Nebraska, he can maybe be a little more athletic than most people at his position.”
All told, 11 of the 13 walk-ons announced Wednesday by NU are in-state players. Coach Bo Pelini said the Huskers have commitments from two others who can’t be announced until some paperwork is finalized.
Some other notes from the walk-on class:
“Also on the list is safety Zach Stovall, Lewis’ former teammate at Bellevue East. Matt O’Hanlon went from Bellevue East walk-on to NU starting safety in 2008 and ‘09, and currently is a volunteer assistant for the Chieftains.
“Norfolk Catholic tight end Connor Ketter and punter Jordan Bellar played on three consecutive Class C-1 state championship teams, punctuating each title on the Memorial Stadium turf. Bellar averaged 45.1 yards per punt as a senior, but also threw for 1,878 yards and 26 touchdowns at quarterback.
“Nebraska picked up a place-kicker in Grant Schumacher of Lincoln Pius X, the school that produced current St. Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein.
“Nebraska added the sons of Doug Glaser and Ken Graeber, two starting Husker linemen from the 1980s. Dustin Glaser is an offensive lineman from Flower Mound, Texas, while Steve Graeber is a defensive tackle from Millard North.
“Tight end Erik Evans out of Waverly, Neb., also has Husker ties. His older brother, Tyler, is a Nebraska receiver.