At the Nike Combine in Los Angeles, Lone Peak High School athlete Preston Lewis, at 6-1.5, 213-pounds recorded a second place Nike Combine finish behind Corona Santiago High School wide receiver Sean North, who comes in at around 5-8, 164-pounds and recorded a 109.56 SPARQ rating.
“Yeah, I came in second place with a Nike SPARQ score of 107.16,” said Lewis. “I’m came in second place behind a small wide receiver. For my forty I was a 4.74 and then shuttle I was a 4.63. For my vertical I was 36 and a half, and then for my powerball I was 42 feet.”
Topping the SPARQ ratings in Los Angeles was BYU running back commit, and Preston Lewis’ teammate, Jackson McChesney.
“He’s an awesome athlete,” Lewis said. “He’s a great kid too. He got number one on his SPARQ rating and recorded a 128, which is crazy. He did unbelievable down there.”
Both Lewis and McChesney beat former USC running back and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush’s SPARQ rating of 100.80.
At 6-1.5 and weighing 213-pounds, Lewis should be playing his more natural position of linebacker rather than defensive end. However, with the help of former BYU Cougar, and former Buffalo Bill, Ryan Denney, Lewis has made the most of it, using his speed and quickness on the edge to get to the quarterback.
“I play defensive end,” Lewis said. “We don’t have a lot of big guys so I have to play on the line. I play outside linebacker too, but I mostly just play D-end.”
“I’m the D-line coach at Lone Peak High School, so I’ve been working with Preston since last spring ball,” said former BYU Cougar Ryan Denney. “It’s been good.”
Under the tutelage of Ryan Denney, Lewis’ performance last season skyrocketed. The numbers speak for themselves.
“I had 14 and a half sacks last season, and I think I had 65 tackles,” said Lewis. “I had 30 tackles for a loss. I had some forced fumbles too. I was kind of that speed end to rush quarterbacks on the end.”
“Preston has a great amount of strength, a quick get-off, and just the right amount of nastiness,” said Denney. “He’s a quiet kid but he’ll go out there and punch you in the mouth. On the field he’s a pretty tough guy. I think those combinations really gave him an edge.”
A large number of those sacks came in a single game during the playoffs. Denney, on the other hand, feels Lewis could have had more sacks than the 14 1/2 he recorded over the course of the season.
“He had a game last year where he had six sacks in one game during the playoffs last year,” Denney said. “He was just coming off the ball and killing anyone who tried to block him. He was pretty much unblockable. That playoff game really helped his numbers, but more than anything he probably left about 10 or 15 [sacks] out there where he either collided with a teammate going for the sack, or had a hand on him and couldn’t bring him down. There were quite a few more he could have had I think.”
Working with Ryan Denney, Lewis was able to learn the little things that translated into greater success on the field.
“He’s awesome and came down this year and started helping us,” Lewis said. “He’s coaching us and helped us go so far. He’s unbelievable and knows so much even outside of knowing just the D-line. He’s a really good scout and would scout for teams. He would just point out the smallest details on offensive lineman. You know like the offensive lineman would do something and you could read that for a play. It’s just the smallest things that he could point out that would really help you. He also does our strength and conditioning for our team now too, which is good.”
However, Denney doesn’t take all the credit for Lewis’ on-field success. He believes Lewis is a naturally gifted athlete with a lot of upside to his game.
“He’s a great player and is one of those kids that has all the natural ability,” said Denney. “He works hard and really came in as a sophomore and played a few games. He really made huge gains over the off-season. Then he had a pretty stellar junior year. I just watched him these last few weeks in the weight room, and then I saw what he did at the Nike SPARQ Combine. He’s just continues to make huge strides getting ready for next season. I think it’s going to translate on the field next season.”
One would think nearly 15 sacks in a season for an undersized defensive lineman would have division one recruiters taking a hard look. To date, only two have come calling and could be looking at him as a potential linebacker.
“I expect him to get five to 10 pounds bigger this year,” said Denney. “Not that he needs it because his natural position is linebacker at the next level. That’s really where he should be playing. I think he has the size and athleticism to play a linebacker position at the next level.”
However, things could be looking up for Lewis who recently spoke with BYU assistant coach Mike Empey. Empey inquired about Lewis’ SPARQ rating and invited him down to BYU for an unofficial visit.
“I talked to Coach Empey and he was asking me about my SPARQ results,” Lewis said. “They’re looking at me and they’re going to have me come down and visit BYU. That’s an exciting thing for me.”
The recent attention by BYU has Lewis, who grew up a BYU fan, excited.
“BYU is awesome!” Lewis said. “That’s D1 football right there, so how could you not want to play there? It’s close to home so that’s nice. I mean, I’ve grown up a BYU fan all my life. It’s an LDS church school and I’m LDS so that’s nice too.”
Lewis is setting himself up to have a big year in 2016 and should be on everyone’s radar as a player to watch.