PHILADELPHIA - University of Pennsylvania linebacker and long snapper Jake Lewko (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) officially signed a free agent contract with the NFL's Tennessee Titans Tuesday afternoon. Lewko will participate in Tennessee's organized team activities starting Thursday, April 29 in Nashville.
"I'm really looking forward to getting down there, becoming part of the team and getting to know all of the players and coaches," Lewko said a few hours after signing his contract. "I'm ready to take whatever they say constructively and give it all my heart. I'm here to improve. I want to do the best I can to make an impact."
"We are thrilled to learn of Jake's signing with the Titans," Penn head coach Al Bagnoli said. "Jake has worked very hard to improve himself during his tenure at Penn and it is very exciting for all concerned to see his effort and dedication pay off. Given his great preparation and work ethic, I am confident he will acquit himself very well in this upcoming mini camp."
Lewko was the Co-Ivy League MVP and an AFCA All-American in guiding Penn to its first Ivy League title since 2003. He was the backbone of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the nation and led the Ivy League in every major defensive category. The team co-captain was also named the team MVP after leading the Quakers in tackles for the second straight year.
The two-time All-Ivy honoree started the last 20 games of his collegiate career and played his best in the most important ones. The Medford, N.J., native had a career-best 15 tackles in the Ivy title-clinching game at Harvard on Nov. 15. He finished his career with 174 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, four sacks, four fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.
"Everything I am is due to the (Penn) coaching staff," Lewko said of his four-year tenure at Penn. "Everything Coach (Cliff) Schwenke taught me, Coach (Ray) Priore’s intensity and his love for the game and defense - I'm taking all that with me. I've thanked the coaches numerous times and after I heard the news, I gave them a call to thank them for putting me in the position I'm in today."
Lewko, who also served as Penn's long snapper the last two seasons, is the 16th player in the Bagnoli era to sign an NFL contract and the first since offensive lineman Sean Estrada did so with the San Francisco 49ers in 2007.
After hearing from the Titans on the final day of the draft that they may be interested, Lewko finally got the call to confirm he'd be heading to Nashville.
"One of the memories that I'll always have from that phone call is the last thing he said - 'Jake, you're going to be a Titan.'"
From Medford, N.J., to Philadelphia, and now to Nashville, Tenn., Lewko will join former Ivy rivals David Howard and Bobby Sewall of Brown. Howard was drafted in the seventh round and Sewall signed a free agent contract. Joining the three Ivy Leaguers on the Titans roster is Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle, a sixth-round draft pick from Florida State. Other notable free agent signings by the Titans include USC running back Stafon Johnson and Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount.