Some version of this tale is told every year.
A talented college football player leaves early for the NFL because he wants to take care of his family. He wants to give the world to his mother and an NFL paycheck is the start of that. He says goodbye to his college life and welcomes in his next step, doing it as much for his family as himself.
It’s a story that actually becomes storybook.
Some stories, however, include a little bit of a twist.
Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis had a decision to make regarding his NFL future following the 2016 season. He had one year of eligibility remaining, but he was coming off of a season where he was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Lineman of the Year. The NFL was certainly interested.
In weighing his decision, Lewis did what so many players have done before him. He thought about his mother and the things that she has done for him, and he wanted to give her something that would show his appreciation for everything they have been through together.
And that is why he returned to Ohio State for one more season.
“I just felt like I owed my mom and a lot of people just one last shot,” he said on Monday. “One last walk out of the Shoe. One last time seeing me in it. Just different things like that.”
That doesn’t mean the decision came easily to Lewis. It was a stressful time for him. He sat down with his mother, as well as OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and went through his options. The more he talked it over, however, the more he realized what it was that he wanted to do.
“I sat down with Coach Johnson and he talked to me about it, and I thought about it,” Lewis said. “Things I’ve always wanted to do since I’ve been here at Ohio State. It really made me consider it. I really wanted to do those things for my mom, my brothers. I want them to be able to be there and see it on Senior Day. Like, ‘Look Mom, it’s the last time.’ I want it to be that bittersweet moment. To see her with a smile and a few tears. I will probably shed some myself.”
Now as Lewis looks back on his Ohio State career — filled with All-Big Ten accolades and experiences that he had never planned on having, the time has gone by quicker than he could have ever imagined.
“It’s gone by really fast, honestly,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to go by this fast. It just happened. Time gets away from you after a while when you’re doing things like this. Taking trips to Chicago, I never had that in my sights at first. All of the accolades, none of that. I just had the objective of playing football for the Buckeyes.”
Nearly eight months ago, that simple objective of playing football left him with the biggest decision of his life.
Should he stay for one last go-round, or cash in a year early and reap the rewards?
“It would have been huge,” he said of the NFL paycheck. “It would have been tremendous for my family. Definitely better pay than almost everybody else in the family. But hey, man, I’m playing for a bigger purpose now. I just give credit to [my family] because they motivate me like nobody else can motivate me. They just do things for me that nobody else can do for me.”
Lewis and his mom and his brothers will have one final season filled with “one last times.”
You’ll never talk to a team leader in college football and have them tell you that their time has dragged on. They will only tell you how quickly the four or five years have passed. Give Lewis credit for being able to slow the process down just long enough to actually put this plan in place.
Sure, the benefits of leaving would have been immediate for Lewis and his family.
The benefits of staying, however, will create memories that will last them forever.