Mainland Regional graduate Antoine Lewis already a key player for Villanova football as a freshman
Villanova's Antoine Lewis rushes the passer during a game earlier this season against Towson.

Antoine Lewis' senior season with the Villanova University football team doesn't begin until next month, but the defensive lineman from Somers Point already is earning attention.

Lewis, a Wildcats team captain, is among 20 seniors nationwide who were named to the preseason Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The Buchanan Award is given annually to the top defensive player from a Football Championship Subdivision, or FCS, program.

The 6-2, 290 pound Lewis, a nose tackle, has made 150 tackles during his Villanova career.

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He was a first team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection last year after starting all 12 games and making 58 tackles, including nine for losses, and getting two sacks and one fumble recovery. In 2010, Lewis was named third-team All-CAA.

The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo changes during the upcoming season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and others following the regular season. The winner will be invited to The Sports Network FCS awards presentation on Dec. 16.

The Buchanan Award Watch List is not the first positive notice Lewis has earned this offseason. Earlier this month, The Sports Network made him a preseason first-team FCS All-American.

Villanova opens the 2013 season on Aug. 31 at Boston College.

Lewis was a first-team Press All-Star at Mainland Regional High School.

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