It was so loud that, at times, Aaron Lewis could barely hear himself think.
But standing on the sideline of the Michigan-Ohio State football game in Ohio Stadium last Nov. 24, the Williamstown star defensive lineman knew one thing.
He was in his element.
“The energy was just crazy,” Lewis said. “We have energy here at Williamstown, but it was like 30 times, 40 times, compared to that.
“I feel like I can match that energy. I just knew that was perfect for me.”
Lewis took a detour but ultimately decided he wanted to be part of one of the best rivalries in college football.
The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Lewis, the Inquirer’s defensive player of the year as a junior, originally committed to West Virginia in April.
“Being committed to one college and then having to make that hard decision, it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do in my life so far,” Lewis said. “But I had to put myself in the best position to succeed in the future, and I talked with my mom, and we talked everything over, and we decided that Michigan was the right place for me.”
Lewis helped Williamstown to a 12-1 record and the South Jersey Group 5 title last season. The Braves open the 2019 season on Friday at home against Vineland.
A rangy, athletic and productive player, Lewis’ best attribute might his relentless style. He goes all-out on every snap, often chasing down ball-carriers from behind.
Lewis said he felt a familiar vibe coming from the Michigan coaching staff, especially defensive line coach Shaen Nua.
“The Michigan coaching staff, they matched the energy I had,” Lewis said. “I’m a high-energy guy.
“They really matched it. That Coach Nua, he’s a high-energy guy. That was one of the many things that made me realize that Michigan was the place for me.”
Lewis said Michigan coaches project him as a strong-side defensive end, playing over the tight end.
Williamstown coach Frank Fucetola said Lewis is the best defensive player he has ever coached.
“It’s not close,” Fucetola said. “He takes over games.”
Lewis made 102 tackles last season, with 25 tackles for loss, 16 hurries, and six sacks.
Lewis said he played at around 225 pounds last season. He’s gained around 20 pounds but says, “I actually feel quicker.”
After last season, Lewis narrowed around 25 offers to a top five of West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin.
He committed to West Virginia after visiting the school during the Mountaineers’ annual spring game.
“I made the decision based on emotion,” Lewis said. “It was their spring game, I was hyped up. I committed in the office with the coach.”
Lewis said he began to re-think his decision and opted to make an official visit to Michigan in late June.