Lewis earning respect, carries

Dennis Erickson and the rest of his staff knew they were getting a gem when Deantre Lewis gave his pledge in May of last year. A four-star prospect and ranked 22nd in his class at running back by Scout.com, Lewis was highly sought after and received offers from three other Pac-10 schools.

Yet, when you get a chance to interact with Lewis, he doesn't seem like a product of hype. He speaks with brevity and a high amount of honesty. On a day where the offense clearly had the advantage over the defense and Lewis broke off several big plays, the true freshman from Norco, Calif. wasn't anxious to pat himself on the back.

"We had a good practice," he said. "We could pick a couple things up though. We missed some chances."

Many first year players have difficulty making the transition from high school living to college life. For Lewis, a player with evident maturity and confidence, the move came without a hitch. Fortunately for Lewis two of his former Norco teammates, Garth Gerhart and Adam Tello, were already here and helped ease the shift to college ball.

"It's been going pretty good," Lewis noted. "I've been picking things up pretty fast. It's come a lot easier than I thought it would. (Gerhart and Tello) just teach me to be calm, stay calm and let the game come to you. Obviously that's been happening lately."

Lewis has also made a good connection with his positional coach, Bryce Erickson. Erickson joined the staff officially last year when former running backs coach Jamie Christian took over as tight ends/special teams coach. The son of head coach Dennis Erickson, he brings youthful enthusiasm to the coaching staff and has already made a strong connection with his players. The younger Erickson has worked hard with Lewis to improve the young running back's vision and decision making.

"(Bryce Erickson) is cool. I love him. He's a good coach. He's sarcastic so that works well with me." said Lewis. "Basically we've worked on just seeing the holes and hitting them fast. You can't come out here slow and soft or you'll get punked. Ever since then I've been doing good."

Lewis has had to adapt to a totally new running style. Throughout his high school career, Lewis was prolific. During his senior season he amassed over 2,000 rushing yards. But most of that success came in an offensive system with a more traditional rushing style. With the Sun Devils, Lewis is commonly lining up next to and taking handoffs from the quarterback out of the shotgun, something he never did in high school.

"(The Shotgun) was something I had to get used to at the start. But I've got it down now. It's pretty easy," remarked Lewis. "(The Sun Devil rushing attack) is a little more spread out. At Norco, it was all in the box. I had to beat nine people just to get to the open area. This is pretty spread out. Holes will come and go but our linemen are working hard, so we'll be good."

The only question for Lewis is how much of the field will he see, how much playing time will he be able to earn? With a deep group of talented young backs and a pass first type offense, getting enough carries to satisfy all the running backs just doesn't seem plausible. But Lewis' team first attitude is quick to praise the same players who he is battling daily for reps.

"Cameron (Marshall) is doing good out there," Lewis said. "He's a good leader. He's teaching me what holes to pick, which holes not to be hesitant about. James (Morrison) is a good leader too. He teaches us to work hard, sprint through everything. Just give it your all on every drill. We have a good group.

"I'll be out there as much as they need me. As much as they can and as much as they can trust in me not to put the ball on the ground or put the ball in the end zone,"

The Sun Devils are now through eleven summer practices. On Saturday the team will participate in their first official scrimmage. Many players, especially the young guys, are eager to get out there and prove their mettle to their fellow teammates and coaches.

"I'm really excited," Lewis confessed. "It will be my first test of what I can take and what I can handle. I'm just going to try to come out and do my thing."


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