New York Jets: The Keith Lewis Story
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
After reading the headline, many of you might be scratching your heads asking yourself who is Keith Lewis, and why this writer would bore you with an article on such an obscure player.
I couldn’t blame you one bit if that was your reaction. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the young man myself. That is, until I started researching a piece on the Jets secondary. While researching Lewis, I stumbled across an interesting story. It’s the story of Keith Lewis, his journey through football, and his struggles to make his dream come true.
I think it’s an interesting story, one that I’ll attempt to tell. Lewis was signed by the Jets last year as a rookie and spent time on the practice squad. He has the chance of a lifetime this spring with the Jets, will make the most of it, and may become a contributor this season. Here’s his story, I hope you enjoy.
Next: Keith Lewis' Journey Through College
Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan (center) talks with his team following training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Keith Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 28th, 1989. Lewis comes from a poor section of Chicago and was raised by his mother along with his three sisters. He played high school football at a prep school in Chicago. When Lewis was a senior at Marie Sklodowska Curie Metro High School, he was a highly sought after recruit by major colleges.
Lewis amassed over 30 football scholarships, but unfortunately for Lewis his ACT scores were too low for him to catch on at the college level. Lewis instead enrolled at small junior college; College of Dupage. He went on to become an All-American at the junior college level.
After completing junior college, grades again became an issue when it came time to transfer to a major college program. Lewis was forced to hang up the cleats, which for most kids, would have been the end of the story. With Lewis, you quickly realize, he’s not your average kid!
Lewis applied to, and was accepted to Harold Washington College to further his education. Harold College does not run a football program however. Lewis got a job at a local Walmart, working full-time, and often extra shifts to help his family at home.
Lewis never gave up on his dream of playing college football again however. While at Harold, he spent his time working hard on his grades. He also spent time emailing football programs, expressing his desire to play and often sending copies of his highlight tape along. The time spent at Harold, combined with Lewis’ loss of his grandmother, allowed Lewis to mature. He worked even harder and promoted himself even harder.
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In an amazing turn of luck, the Virginia University of Lynchburg responded to his email and offered him a scholarship without even a visit. He popped out on his highlight tape and Lewis quickly agreed to enroll.
His time at Lynchburg was enough to draw a few NFL scout’s attentions. Lewis was not invited to the NFL Combine last year prior to the draft however. He attempted to workout with nearby Liberty at their Pro Day, but was denied the opportunity to show off his talent alongside their players.
That wasn’t enough to stop Lewis however. When faced with adversities, Lewis has shown he has the stuff to overcome. His rejection to workout at Liberty forced Lewis to organize his own Pro Day at his small campus. The workout didn’t go spectacularly, few scouts showed up and it had snowed several inches the day before the event, leaving the field snow-covered for Lewis’s big day.
Next: Onto The NFL
Oct 25, 2014; London UNITED KINGDOM; A youngster wears a New York Jets helmet at the NFL Fan Rally at Trafalgar Square in advance of the International Series game between the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Lewis went undrafted last season. He was quickly signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, andplayed with Tampa through camp before being let go at the final cut. The Seattle Seahawks then brought him for a workout, but failed to offer him a contract. Lewis then found a home with the Omaha Mammoths of the FXFL.
Lewis played well for the Mammoths before being signed by the Jets to their practice squad in December of last season. Former Defensive Coordinator Dennis Thurman described him as “A raw talent with an interesting skill set” after the Jets saw him work out.
Lewis measures in at 6’1″/191 lbs. He may not have the “trophies and awards” many big time cornerbacks possess by the time they reach the NFL, but he has talent and determination. Lewis is likely a long shot to make the 53 man roster next season, but I wouldn’t count him out. If hard work and dedication counts for anything, Lewis will be in contention.
That’s the story of one our newest cornerbacks. He’s a kid that is living his dream right now. He and his family still reside in that same poor neighborhood in Chicago, a fact Lewis plans on changing if he can secure an NFL contract. I know I’ll be rooting for him this summer through camp! How about you? Let’s talk Jets football!!