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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
HAMILTON, Ontario, Canada — Dominic Lewis’ dream has always been to play in the NFL.
After not hearing his name called in the NFL Draft, Lewis received an invitation to rookie camp with the New Orleans Saints.
The former John Hardin High School and University of Kentucky defensive lineman attended the camp, but didn’t receive an invitation to the team’s training camp. Lewis and his agent, Elizabethtown-based Jon Rabinowitz, were told the Saints would keep Lewis on their radar.
“It went very well,” Rabinowitz said of Lewis’ time with New Orleans. “I got a call back from the Saints saying they were going to keep him on their board.”
Instead of taking a wait-and-see approach, Lewis wanted to find the best opportunity to play right away.
He just didn’t think he would have to look north of the border for that opportunity.
Lewis signed a two-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League on May 28.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Rabinowitz said it’s “laced with incentives.”
“Without a question we’d love for him to play in the NFL,” Rabinowitz said. “But this is a top-notch league and he’s going to get experience needed to move on. Right now he’s just focused on doing well and making the team.”
As the Tiger-Cats begin preseason play, Rabinowitz feels Lewis has a great shot at earning a starting spot.
And so does Hamilton coach Charlie Taaffe.
“He has very good explosion and is extremely quick,” Taaffe said. “I think he is a guy that, if we can get him singled up (facing just one blocker), he’ll be able to rush the passer pretty well.”
After switching positions three times in his first three years at Kentucky, Lewis found a home at defensive end.
His senior year was his best season, recording 37 tackles, including 6½ for loss, three sacks, three pass breakups and two fumbles caused. For his career, Lewis had 67 tackles, including 12 for a loss and five sacks as he helped lead the Wildcats to consecutive Music City Bowl titles.
Now, he will try and get the Tiger-Cats back to the top of the CFL. Hamilton, which went 3-15 last year, has won 15 Grey Cups with the last coming in 1999.
“Dominic’s having a great time up there,” Rabinowitz said. “I think it surprised him how talented the players are up there. He can be pretty successful in that league. His size is perfect as a rushing three technique. He’ll be blitzing all the time.”
Lewis is part of a youth movement in Hamilton. Since 2002, the Tiger-Cats have gone a combined 29-78 and missed the playoffs five times.
Bob O’Billovich took over as general manager last December and overhauled the team.
“I talked to Dominic a few days ago and he said there’s a bunch of young people on the team,” Rabinowitz said. “The GM came in and cleaned house and brought in a bunch of new faces.
“I think it’ll be a wonderful experience for him,” he added. “It’s a great opportunity for him to play and continue his dream of playing football.”
It may not be the NFL, but Lewis is just happy to be living his dream.
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752