Deantre Lewis is probably not a name familiar to most Pac-12 football fans, but it very easily could have been. Lewis, an Arizona State Sun Devil, was a stray bullet away from being a star.
Lewis first started to make a name for himself in 2010 as a true freshman. The running back burst on the scene as a major playmaker, the proverbial flash to Cameron Marshall’s thunder. In his first game he scored three touchdowns and ended the year with over 500 rushing yards and another 370 yards receiving. He looked like a potential star in the conference and was poised to form a dangerous duo with Marshall on a potentially great ASU team in 2011.
That offseason, Lewis made a short trip home to visit his sister and her new baby. After commuting to a high school well out of his home neighborhood and earning his scholarship, Lewis thought he had avoided the trouble that surrounded him growing up. That short two day trip was long enough for it to find him, though, as he was shot by a stray bullet. He wasn’t involved in any kind of altercation and deserved no part of the blame. It was just terrible luck.
Lewis escaped probable death when the bullet missed an artery by three centimeters, and somehow rejoined the football team with hopes of playing in 2011. The bullet damaged his hamstring, however, and he never made it onto the field. This year, he suffered through a few injuries in training camp and found himself behind not only Marshall but also true freshman D.J. Foster on the depth chart.
I’ve been a fan of the guy since his career started, beyond just feeling bad for him and hoping he could make it back. I probably wouldn’t have known about him except for a Pac-12 fantasy league we Good Guys do. I grabbed him early in 2010 and he helped me win the league, but my enduring memory of him came before ASU’s 2010 game at UW. We have seats in the open end zone bleachers, which feel like they are almost in the end zone. The Sun Devils were warming up right in front of us, and the running backs were getting ready to go through drills when some song came on. All of the backs started dancing, which made Andrew and I crack up. Most stopped after a couple of bars, but Deantre danced for a good couple of minutes, all by himself. The guy could dance. Every time we thought he would stop, he’d bust out a new move. It was great, one of those meaningless moments that give you an idea of what type of person a player is and sets them apart as a little bit special. I don’t have any recollection of that game except for Deantre Lewis dancing. He seemed like a star.
This week news broke that he’s moving to the defensive side of the ball. Evidently, he was really pounding people on special teams, and considering his spot on the depth chart, the coaches asked if he wanted to move to defense, in a hybrid DB/LB role. He immediately said yes. He went on to tell reporters that he still has a lot of anger and that he felt playing defense would help him let some of that anger out in a positive way. I want to make clear that he didn’t sound like an angry guy. It’s easy to stereotype a football player who grew up in a bad neighborhood and think he’s just an angry guy who only wants to hit people. Deantre Lewis was shot, and it wasn’t in an altercation; it was while he was visiting his family after a life of trying to make good and stay out of trouble. He has every right to be angry.
Position changes frequently amount to nothing, but I’m hoping this one turns Lewis into the star he always looked like. We’re always in need of good stories, no matter which team they play for. I’ll be cheering for Deantre Lewis every Saturday this fall, and if the Huskies get ASU at home in the next two years, I’m hoping Deantre still feels like dancing.