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Indepth Look At OU Linebacker Travis Lewis
How good can Travis Lewis be?
How large might his legacy become?
How great may his shadow loom?
Maybe, not much.
Oklahoma knows all about great linebackers.
A group that includes Rod Shoate, George Cumby, Daryl Hunt, Brian Bosworth, Rocky Calmus, Teddy Lehman and Curtis Lofton can be a pretty tough club to get into.
On the other hand, think about this...
A year ago, plucked from obscurity, from the third spot on the depth chart to starting as the season opened against Tennesse-Chattanooga last September, Lewis went on to become Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year as voted by the media, Big 12 defensive freshman of the year as voted by the coaches, even a first-team Big 12 academic honoree, as penciled in by his own success in the classroom.
And he made 144 tackles, more than any freshman in Sooner history. Bosworth made 133. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say Lewis makes 144 tackles a season for four seasons. Do that and he would complete his collegiate career with 576 tackles.
Darryl Hunt closed things out in 1978 after four stellar seasons for Barry Switzer. Hunt made 530 tackles. No other Sooner has reached 490. Lewis, conceivably, could threaten 600 tackles.
One game into the 2009 season, he remained on pace after making 13 stops against BYU.
If only his position coach cared about all those tackles.
Here’s the first thing Sooner defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables said when asked about Lewis’ meteoric rise from depth-chart vagabond to becoming an All-Conference honoree.
“He’ll be the first to tell you. When Ryan (Reynolds) went out (for the season against Texas) and we weren’t very good. He had a good hand in it,” Venables said. “From not calling things the right way to getting in the right fits — some real simple things.
“So me, I’m looking for a lot more from him. That may not equate to better stats and I’m OK with that. For me, it’s about making the plays you’re supposed to make.”
So asked about Lewis’ meteoric rise, Venables chose instead to talk about Lewis’ fall. And yet it seems to beg another question.
Imagine Lewis playing well all the time. What on earth might that look like?
Venables, of course, is paid to be Travis Lewis’ harshest critic. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson is not.
“My opinion, going against him in practice, is that he’s very smart. You know, he sees things that he recognizes very fast in his mind and it enables him to play fast. I think he’s very intelligent,” Wilson said. “Whether it’s instinctiveness or whatever, he sees things, he feels things, he just has a knack, a savvy.”
And he has a motor that won’t stop. Not when there’s an opponent on the field, or even when it’s just a teammate.
“It’s something we see every day in practice. He’s probably one of the most competitive guys we have out there,” offered Sam Bradford, the Sooners’ Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. “Any time the (first-teamers) are going against each other, he’s always got his mouth going, he’s always talking trash.”
(Editor's Note: This is a portion of a feature story on Travis Lewis that appears in the Sept. 16 issue of Sooner Spectator. To get the rest of the story and subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877...)