Lewis endured five surgeries in the span of 23 months following his sophomore year, including three operations to repair his anterior cruciate ligament and two scopes, one each on his left and right knee.
He began to wonder if the Fresno State loss, played his sophomore year in November of 2009, would be his last time playing in a college game After sitting out two full seasons, Lewis finally saw the field again last season against Ohio State, near three years after his original injury.
"My heart was racing 100 miles a minute," he said following the game. "It was great. My nerves was going. That first play, it was a great feeling, one of the greatest feelings of my life just being able to get back out there."
Lewis appeared in five games in 2012, playing on a knee that he estimated was between 80 and 90 percent. The chance to go through a full offseason to reach full health and strength would give Lewis an opportunity to end his career on a high note.
But that talk is on hold until the NCAA informs Illinois of it's ruling. Until then, Lewis said he's optimistic of his chances.
"From what I'm hearing it's a slam dunk for the most part with all my injuries," he said. "I don't see why the NCAA wouldn't grant it to me."