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Eight-man star Ronnell Lewis excited about future with Sooners
Like a lot of young men who grow up in Oklahoma, Ronnell Lewis has
dreamed of playing football for the University of Oklahoma, of donning
the crimson and cream, and running onto Owen Field in front of 80,000
But while those types of aspirations are fairly common, the reality is
less than one percent of the kids who play high school football in this
state have what it takes to take that next step.
For those who play eight-man football, the odds are even more
That potentially makes Ronnell Lewis' story pretty special.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior out of Dewar High verbally committed to
Oklahoma earlier this spring. For Lewis, there were never really any
other contenders for his talents once he was offered a scholarship by
Bob Stoops' program.
"It was always OU first," admitted Lewis, who ran for a state-best 40
touchdowns as a junior. "There was no other schools I wanted to go to.
Since I was a little kid, I knew I was going to play for them. I am an
A lot of prospects look forward to the entire recruiting process -- the
trips around the country, meeting coaches and players, and comparing
and contrasting what other universities have to offer.
But for the 17-year-old Lewis, there was no reason to draw out the
process. He made his decision to become a Sooner after he attended
junior day at both OU and Oklahoma State.
That was all the convincing he needed.
"OU is where I always wanted to go and major in something. OSU is
nothing like Oklahoma," said Lewis. "So when (OU) offered, I said I was
just going to take it. It's a good school for me and a good opportunity
to play football and do my thing for them."
Lewis' thing so far has been to dominate all competition in eight-man
football for Dewar. Besides his knack for finding the end zone, he
rushed for more than 2,000 yards, which helped lead Dewar to the Class
B state title game in 2007.
While the Dragons came up short of winning a title, Lewis does not plan
on departing high school without carrying the gold ball off the field.
"I want to go out there and win a state championship. Last year, we
made it to state and got runner-up. We played hard, but didn't get it,"
he explained. "We just have to go out there and do our thing and play
our game next time."
Despite playing for an obscure program in a class that is barely
known to football fans, Lewis has been able to garner enough attention
to catch the eye of coaches and scouts from around the country.
"Lewis was a true find," said a Scout.com report. "He plays safety and
running back, but seems to be a natural fit at strong side or middle
linebacker in college. He has a frame that is college-ready right now.
He moves well and is very fluid in and out of his cuts as a running
back, and he will also lay the wood coming up from his spot at safety."
Lewis believes the Sooners will use him as a linebacker, a position he
will have to continue to learn once he arrives in Norman.
With his size and speed (11.5 in 100), Lewis could play almost any spot
on the field. Linebacker would seem to fit his personality and what he
likes to do best on the gridiron.
"To be honest, I like the contact, the physicalness," Lewis said. "It's
the adrenal rush. It gets no better than football. They like the way I
play downhill. Just get around the ball an put a hit on somebody."
It should not be a surprise that Lewis likes to deal out punishment.
His favorite player is former OU All-American Adrian Peterson, who made
a name for himself taking on defenders and never shying away from a
Lewis sees himself in the same mold.
Whether he is carrying the rock on offense or is a heat seeking missile
on defense, he wants to make the opposition aware of his presence.
"He is a very physical player -- plays both sides. One of those guys
that enjoys hitting and making big hits," said Dewar High coach Josh
Been. "(Ronnell) has a good nose for the football and has a knack for
knowing what's going on. He seems to be able to get to the football."
Lewis will use his senior season to get better aquatinted with what it
takes to be a linebacker at the next level. Been is moving his star
player from safety to linebacker, and expects his Lewis to be just as
effective, despite the whirlwind offseason.
"My expectations are not going to change, even with all of this OU
stuff," Been said. "We had high expectations for him anyhow. He carried
the ball so much for us so we played him at safety. This year, we will
play him at linebacker. We will expect more out of him ‹ put him in
the mix on every down. We expect the same things from him."
That means more work for Lewis, which is fine with him.
"I am physical. I like to play the game. I love the game. I can help
the team out and make them better and make myself better by working
really hard," said Lewis. "I put a lot of effort in what I do."
Lewis' work ethic and talent seem to be in the genes.
His father was a four-sport letterman at Dewar. That type of pedigree
might be hard to live up to, but Lewis has made his father proud.
"He says I am a little better than he was. He gives me my props," said
Lewis, discussing his father's accomplishments. "He knows I am a hard
worker. He was a great player. He thinks I can go be a player at OU."
Been also believes Lewis has a chance to be a special college player.
Despite he has not competed against the same talent pool many other OU
recruits have faced, Lewis will bring a lot of intangibles to to
Oklahoma program, according to Been.
"His overall understanding of the game has improved. He now has
playmaking ability, but still plays within the scheme. His leadership
is also were he has grown. He leads by example -- finishes every sprint
in first place," noted Been. "He is a real good young man, never been
in any trouble.
"He is a yes sir no sir type-kid ‹ a country kid. He doesn't give us
any trouble whatsoever."
Lewis has designs on graduating early from Dewar and enrolling at OU
next spring. He wants to get a jump on learning the system and
terminology, as well as get started making the transition from tiny
Dewar to a big-time college town.
"I think it will be a big change for me," admitted Lewis. "The
atmosphere up there, I will love. It won't bother me as much. It will
be a great thing for me."
Lewis said he still has the same daydreams he had when he was a little
boy. But now he knows, he is only a year away from realizing them.
"I can already imagine myself running through the tunnel and onto the
field," Lewis added.
"This is where I want to be and what I want to do."
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Spring Football issue of
Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, please call toll free 1-877-841-8877.)