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Top MAC Football Players of 2014: No. 12 Tommylee Lewis, NIU Wide Receiver

The speedy receiver has helped the Huskies in numerous ways the past three season. Now he'll look to add the exclamation point to an already solid career in DeKalb.

Tommylee Lewis (#10) returns a kick for a TD against Purdue
Tommylee Lewis (#10) returns a kick for a TD against Purdue
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Illinois Huskies have had a speed demon on the outside for the past three seasons. And, despite the Huskies being one of the best rushing teams in the country the past two seasons, he has made an impact through the air each year.

Tommylee Lewis, at only 5 foot 7, might not be the tallest player on the field, but he sure plays a big game. The senior wide out began his NIU career way back in 2011 as a true freshman and was quick to impress. Playing in 11 games, he averaged over 25 yards per kick return and had 829 all-purpose yards, third most on the team. In a 63-60 victory against the Toledo Rocketshe even returned two kicks for touchdowns—an NIU record—becoming only the 13th player to ever do that.

The next season saw more of the same from Lewis, 24.5 yards per return (with one returned for a TD) and 1,318 all-purpose yards. He ran for 111 yards, added 539 receiving yards, and had five total TDs.

Last year, Lewis continued his rise to the top of the MAC, and even garnered All-American honors from Sports Illustrated. He had 1,405 total yards and was second in the MAC (first at NIU) with 86 receptions. Lewis gained 715 yards in the air with three scores. He didn't return as many kicks last season, just 11, but still had a career high in average, at 28.4 yards per return. He was even able to return a fourth kick for a touchdown against the Purdue Boilermakers.

However, if you think he's only a return threat and a threat through the air, you're dead wrong. Rushing the ball, he is equally as dangerous - adding 359 rushing yards and averaging 12 yards per carry. Against Idaho he had a career-high 104 rushing yards on just four carries.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles saw more of Lewis than they wished they would have in last year's matchup. He ran for 81 yards, caught eight passes for 107 yards, and then even had the audacity to THROW a touchdown pass as well - a 17-yard strike to former QB Jordan Lynch.

So far in his career he has gained 3,451 yards (541 rushing, 1254 receiving, 1656 on returns) and scored 15 times. Proving that with his lightning speed and elusiveness, he is one of the hardest players to bring down in the MAC and one of the best returners in the country. This year, he should have defensive coordinators pulling out their hairs whenever the ball is in his hands.