Peter Jennings just wanted to send some good luck to Evan Lewandowski.
Lewandowski announced in December that he was entering the transfer portal after a record-setting sophomore campaign with UW-La Crosse at quarterback.
So, Jennings — the offensive coordinator at UW-Whitewater — gave Lewandowski a call to wish him well.
“My initial reach out actually was as much to wish him the best of luck,” Jennings said. “We heard through the grapevine that he was hoping to land a scholarship somewhere. It was as much to wish him the best of luck as anything, truly, because you don’t really think it’s going to work out that you can land a talent like that.”
Lewandowski broke onto the scene in his second year as an All-WIAC first-team selection. Lewandowski set UW-La Crosse program records in passing yards (2,804) and touchdowns (28). He also tied a NCAA Division III record with nine touchdown passes in a 63-49 win over UW-River Falls.
The Lake Zurich, Illinois native expressed desire to play at a higher level and announced in May that he would be transferring to Big Ten Maryland. Almost two weeks later Taulia Tagovailoa — brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — announced he was also transferring to Maryland.
On July 6, Lewandowski announced his new plan on Twitter.
“Change of plans… I’m headed to Whitewater.”
“When I originally entered the transfer portal coach Jennings was the first coach to reach out,” Lewandowski said. “Right from the start that shows me I can be comfortable with that school.”
Jennings watched lots of Lewandowski film when studying WIAC defenses during the season. The thing that stuck out most for Jennings was Lewandowski’s moxie.
“It’s the way he carries himself throughout the game, whether he just got hit and is popping back up or throwing a 50-yard strike,” Jennings said. “He seems like the same kid playing with a ton of confidence and talent.”
When Lewandowski and the Eagles matched up with the Warhawks last season, it was Whitewater coming away with a 21-17 win after La Crosse got up 10-0. Lewandowski completed 22 of 39 passes for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss.
“I can’t remember one iconic throw, I can remember a ton of big time third-and-long pickups,” Jennings said. “Which he was obviously a huge part of.”
Last season Zach Oles and Max Meylor shared quarterback duties as juniors for the Warhawks.
Oles played in 12 games and threw for 1,509 yards, along with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Meylor also played in 12 games, recorded 1,171 passing yards and tossed 11 touchdowns to go along with nine picks.
Whitewater attempted 657 runs last year, compared to 407 passes. La Crosse ran the ball 305 times versus 389 throws.
“We have such a multi-faceted offensive system that we can really tailor it to a lot of different skill levels and sets at the quarterback position,” Jennings said. “I think he fits in really well. Truly he is a very gifted passer and an intelligent young man. That will fit into just about any offensive system, just not unique to us.”
So, what is it like for Lewandowski to trade the maroon jersey for a purple one?
“It’s a little odd,” he said.
“I can see myself going there now (Whitewater), but when I was at La Crosse, no.”
Per WIAC rules, Lewandowski will have to sit out next season, and then will have two years of eligibility left.
“I just want to get to know the coaches and the players,” Lewandowski said. “Just building that relationship with the program is huge. Get into the playbook with coach Jennings and the other quarterbacks. Learning as much as I can.”