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Travis Lewis Q&A
On Sale at Newstands Oct. 17
OU's Rookie Linebacker Talks Football and More
Possibly the best way to describe Travis Lewis coming into the 2008 football season was as an ďunknown commodity.Ē Oh, everyone who had seen Lewis practice during his first season at Oklahoma knew he had talent. But he was making a significant transition from safety to linebacker and how the experiment would turn out was anyoneís guess.
So far, so good. Make that great.
Lewis has been one of Soonersí top defenders through the early portion of the season, leading the team in tackles and making the kind of impact few could have seen coming.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Lewis after a recent practice to talk about his performance so far on defense, the move to linebacker and a whole lot more.
Sooner Spectator: You played running back and safety in high school, so what has it been like making the adjustment to linebacker?
Travis Lewis: Playing running back all through high school, and primarily running back because I didnít play a lot of defense ó my coaches had to give me the ball 30 or 40 times a game. OU recruits athletes at linebacker. Austin Box played quarterback and the transition was big-time, learning how to get my pads low and the footwork and everything. It was a big transition stage for me and I didnít care so much about the redshirt because I knew there was so much to learn at linebacker, just with the technique and itís all about leverage. I had to learn that, so it was a big transition.
SS: Itís hard to envision you as a running back the way youíre playing linebacker now because Brent Venables talks about how emotional you are and having to calm you down on the field. And the other players talk about how excitable you are. It seems like linebacker is a perfect fit for you?
Lewis: I always knew and I was recruited as a running back by some colleges, but I always knew I wanted to play linebacker. Iíd rather hit somebody and make them fumble than score a touchdown. Iíve always had that mentality. I go out there and I want to go as hard as I can, so linebacker fits me perfectly.
SS: The first game week starts and Mike Balogun is introduced as the starting weakside linebacker. You seemed to be on the outside looking in at that point. How satisfying itís been for you to work your way into a starting spot?
Lewis: Itís been a big-time learning process for me. It wasnít so much being number two or number three, itís been getting what I need to work on down. I guess it was more I needed to work on. I went out there hungry because I wasnít the starter and I guess thatís why Iím in the position Iím in now, because every day I went out there with something to prove. I guess it helped me a lot.
SS: You seem to be a guy that really thinks for yourself. How would you describe your personality and how you interact with people?
Lewis: If Iíve got something to say Iím going to say it. When Iím out there on the field, Iím talking trash. When Iím in the locker room, Iím congratulating the defensive line ó but when something is on my mind Iím going to say it. When Iím doing bad, Iím going to admit Iím doing back. If Iím doing good, Iím going to bring the other players up around me and try to spread it to them. I would like to think of myself as vocal. You see me out on the field and Iím yelling and if somebody makes a big play Iím the first person up to them. If somethingís on my mind, Iím going to say it.
SS: People describe you as a very intelligent guy. Does that kind of translate to goals in the classroom?
Lewis: I wouldnít say Iím so much intelligent as I am lucky sometimes. I think Iím in the right place some of the time, but some of that has to do with the preparation. I guess I take school very (seriously). I take the classroom seriously and Iím not falling asleep and Iím doing my job. I guess that translates over to the football field and what Iím studying when Iím up in the film room and stuff like that.
SS: What area of study are you pursuing right now?
Lewis: I still donít know what I want to major in. I want to coach in high school and my coach (Timmy Ramos), I know I wouldnít be here right now if it wasnít for him. He gave me the skills that I have and he gave me opportunities when I was a knucklehead. What he gave to me, I want to give to athletes at that age. I know I want to go into coaching, but I donít know about the teaching part. Kineseology might be a major or something like that.
SS: You hear of guys coming from San Antonio from time-to-time, but it wouldnít be considered a hotbed of talent. Is it a big deal when a guy like San Antonio comes to Oklahoma?
Lewis: I always loved the OU-Texas rivalries. I was always a big fan of both schools, and growing up in Texas, I was a little Texas fan when Vince Young was there. San Antonio isnít a highly recruited area. Going to those combines and stuff, getting myself out there ó my school wasnít very successful ó but going to those combines and getting myself out there, I guess it worked out for me. I was a big fan of both schools, both Oklahoma and Texas. I didnít like the way Texas recruited me, so it was Oklahoma.
(Editor's Note: This is a portion of an interview that appears in the new Oct. 1 issue of Sooner Spectator, our OU-Texas preview special edition. To read more, subscribe today! Call toll free 1-877-841-8877 or subscribe on-line at soonerspectator.com)