Khalil Lewis wasn't planning on pulling the trigger last weekend during his official visit to Gardner-Webb.
The Hilton Head Island High School running back had a handful of other college choices to mull over before National Signing Day and was in no hurry to wrap up the process. But things changed when he finally arrived Boiling Springs, N.C., and saw his potential future in front of him.
"When I went there, it was honestly just a visit for me," he said. "But (when) I experienced it, I knew where I should be."
The senior committed to the Runnin' Bulldogs before leaving, closing a recruitment that included a handful of interested FBS schools. But Lewis settled on the FCS team, realizing it to be a better fit than the bigger programs that offered, such as Florida Atlantic and Buffalo.
"I got along with my teammates," he said. "It felt like family there, so that's why I chose it."
The depth chart didn't hurt matters, either. Last season's leading rusher, Juanne Blount, will be a redshirt senior next year and the Bulldogs do not have another running back committed in this year's class, Lewis said.
Gardner-Webb coaches have told the Seahawks standout he will have a chance at playing time in 2014. The Runnin' Bulldogs run a similiar offense to the spread option Hilton Head High employs, Lewis said.
The senior rushed for a combined 3,082 yards and 32 touchdowns over the last two seasons in coach B.J. Payne's offense, leading him to a first-team Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette all-area selection both years.
"Me actually taking the visit to Gardner-Webb, I noticed I was needed there," he said. "Some big schools, you go there and they tell you everything (you want) but you know they've got three running backs. I don't have to battle with a lot of guys."
Name: Khalil Lewis
High school: Hilton Head Island High School
High school coach: B.J. Payne
College: Gardner-Webb University
Probable major: Business or marketing
About Gardner-Webb: The NCAA Division I Runnin' Bulldogs compete in the Big South Conference. They went 7-5 in 2013 under second-year coach Carroll McCray.
Why Gardner-Webb? "I can go to Gardner-Webb and get a great education and still get the publicity like I would at a bigger school."
Other schools considered: Florida Atlantic, Buffalo, Massachusetts
Other high school sports played: None
Accolades: Two-time Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette first-team all-area selection.