Former Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis has transitioned from a successful 10-year playing career in the NFL to helping those who one day hope to achieve a similar goal.
Lewis, who accumulated a franchise-record 7,801 rushing yards during his seven seasons with the Ravens (2000-06), collaborated with David Pemberton to help launch Xpert Eval in January 2013. A native of Atlanta, Lewis said Xpert Eval was started in part to help aspiring football players reach their full potential while bridging the gap between the high school and college games.
"It was just an idea at first," Lewis said, "but when I go to the park and watch my son play baseball or soccer, a lot of the parents of the kids who play football always ask me certain questions about their kids' game and development so they can compete.
"I noticed there was something missing in the high school player development area within the culture of where the game is going, and the culture right now is about getting exposure and a scholarship."
As Xpert Eval's president of player development, Lewis said he had handpicked several former NFL players -- including ex-Ravens quarterback Kordell Stewart and fullback Sam Gash -- to work as experts because of their ability to evaluate talent.
"My role is to align the former players," Lewis said, "and make sure that they are aware of the business intel, how to teach our platform and helping the athletes really build their own brand. Basically, these guys understood the concepts of what we're trying to do. They are aware of what's going on in high school football and what's being asked of these kids, how they are being taken advantage of, because no one is giving these kids credible feedback."
Lewis also recruited former NFL standouts Willie McGinest, Troy Brown, Steve Atwater, Ray Buchanan, Ricky Hunley and Jamie Dukes to join the team of talent evaluators at Xpert Eval.
"Most of these guys were basically mentors of mine through my whole NFL process," Lewis said. "Also, if you look at the guys we have on board, demographically, I kind of made sure that we were spread out around the country."
Pemberton, Xpert Eval's CEO, said the factor that distinguished his company from other scouting services was the level of experience his staff could offer to players looking to compete at the highest levels of football.
"Our evals are completed by Xperts, folks that have played the position that they are evaluating," Pemberton said. "They are not completed by analysts or coaches that never played the game beyond high school. If the player chooses, they can have an actual conversation with the Xpert that completed their eval. Imagine talking about your linebacker play with McGinest or safety play with Atwater."
Lewis said he had planned for Xpert Eval to become a pioneer in the scouting service industry moving forward.
"I see Xpert Eval as being the first real development service for high school athletes as a whole," Lewis said. "Basically, I see it as a tool to better high school athletes within the fundamentals of the game. We ultimately want to be that evaluation company for high school sports, period."