Lewis tries to live up to the hype

Leo Lewis was rated the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker in the 2015 recruiting class. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

Leo Lewis was rated the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker in the 2015 recruiting class. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

It seems as if every year Mississippi there is one high school prospect whose recruitment captures the fascination of the entire state.

Two years ago that player was Brookhaven four-star standout Leo Lewis. The Under Armor All-American was rated as the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker and had earned 17 scholarship offers.

Lewis initially committed to Alabama in April 2014 but backed off his pledge three months later. In September 2014, he committed to Ole Miss but again de-committed five days prior national signing day.

All that change along with an official visits to Mississippi State and LSU created quite a bit of controversy among those fan bases and posed potential stress for Lewis. He tried to distract himself from the drama as best he could during that time.

“I think I handled that pretty well,” Lewis said. “I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders. Going through the recruiting process, I really just handled everything on my own. It was crazy. No matter what you do, people are going to slander your name so you have to keep a level head about you. I wanted to play my recruiting process out until signing day.”

It was on national signing day that Lewis ended all the internet rumors by inking a letter of intent to play at MSU.

“I couldn’t have made a better decision,” Lewis said. “When I signed that dotted line, I was probably the happiest person in Mississippi.”

Lewis arrived in Starkville last summer with lofty expectations but the decision was made to redshirt him in 2015. He took advantage of the situation by shedding 20-pounds off his 6-foot-2 frame down to 230.

“I benefited a lot from that year,” Lewis said. “I think it’s the best decision I could’ve made because I got to catch up on the game speed and also learn a lot in that process. It’s a humbling process because you see the guys that get to go out there and play and it makes you realize how much you love the game of football. It makes you prepare and train harder for when your opportunity comes.”

Lewis is making the most of his opportunity this spring. He is working as a first team inside linebacker in the Bulldogs’ new 3-4 scheme and even recorded an interception in the first scrimmage last Saturday.

“Things are going pretty good,” Lewis said. “I’m trying to get comfortable in the defense and the things they want me to do. I’m learning the most that I can from coach (Peter) Sirmon, who played at the next level for years. I’m trying to soak up as much knowledge so I can hit the field and be successful.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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