FOXBORO, Mass. — Vince Wilfork decided to play for the University of Miami due to the Hurricanes' winning tradition and their ability to produce NFL-ready defensive linemen. So, he naturally couldn't contain his excitement when the Patriots recently reached an agreement with defensive lineman Damione Lewis, who was an outgoing senior before Wilfork got to campus in Coral Gables.
Wilfork's feeling was actually somewhat reciprocated, both in the past and present. As soon as Lewis laid eyes on Wilfork in 2001, the elder statesman wished he had an extra year of eligibility.
"Vince is an animal, has always been," said Lewis, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2001 draft. "I remember when [Wilfork] first got there in December , we were actually getting ready to play Florida [in the Sugar Bowl], and I was just sitting back watching and was like, 'Golly, I wish I had another year to play with this kid.'"
Lewis (whose first name is pronounced like "DAY-mee-in") will have a versatile role in New England and should be able to play each position along the defensive line, and his signing helped the Patriots address a need for depth in the offseason. He is obviously excited to help out, but he is just as intrigued about the possibility to finally suit up on the same team as a guy he has always rooted for.
"We had [Wilfork] and Jerome McDougle, and those guys are humming off the ball, had a lot of energy and a lot of passion for the game," Lewis said. "It was like, 'Wow. These guys right here, this D-line would be unbelievable.' We went in and actually watched them play against Nebraska in the national championship [in January 2002], and watched them go out there and crush those guys. It was sweet, man, but you know, Vince has been a good player for a long time. He's always been a good player. Even in high school, I heard about him and tried to follow him as much as I could with the sports news down there in Miami, because I love high school football as well."
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