Alonzo Lewis couldn't have drawn it up any better once his sophomore year officially came to an end.
Lewis, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with 4.4 speed, was fresh off a sophomore campaign where he made his mark for a St. James (La.) team that finished 9-4 before falling to Evangel in the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
Lewis tested his skills on both sides of the ball and he made quite an impression. Starting at cornerback, he intercepted three passes and was in on 27 tackles for the Wildcats. He added 16 receptions for 388 yards – a 24.3 yard per catch average – and four touchdowns.
College coaches from Houston, Tulsa and many of the in-state schools made their way over to St. James during the spring evaluation period and they got their first good look at Lewis. And according to St. James head coach Rick Gaille all of the coaches liked what they saw.
The LSU staff got its first good look at Lewis when he attended Les Miles’ camp in June. He worked out for LSU wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy for a day and a half, and that was all the Tiger coaches needed to see as Lewis received a verbal scholarship offer from the Tigers that took him by surprise.
“I sure wasn’t expecting that,” Lewis said. “I never thought I’d see the day that LSU would offer, especially with the grade that I was in at the time.”
Lewis said that earning a scholarship wasn’t even on his mind when he made plans to attend the camp. However, once he started participating in drills alongside players such as 2010 LSU commitment Mike Davis and 2011 prospect Jarvis Landry, he realized that he had those same type of skills. But he wasn’t the only.
“I just went and showed the coaches that I could run and catch and that I was big,” Lewis said. “I tried to show them what I do best, and Coach (D.J.) McCarthy (receivers coach) liked what he saw. Then when we checked out of camp, Coach Miles talked to me and my parents and told them that he wanted me at LSU and that I had an offer.”
Gaille wasn’t surprised that a school as prestigious as LSU offered Lewis, who has since picked up an overture from Tulsa and is getting strong interest from Alabama, Houston, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee and Oregon to name a few.
Now, according to Gaille, the question isn’t whether Lewis will have the opportunity to play major college football. It’s which side of the ball he will end up on.
“Coaches like him at receiver more but he plays corner for us too,” said Gaille. “All schools seem to be looking for that big, physical receiver that can run, and Alonzo certainly fits that bill.
“He may not look like your average corner because of his size, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up there. He can turn his hips and he’s so physical at the point.”
Lewis hasn’t been blessed with the same good fortune he enjoyed over the summer as his junior campaign hasn’t gone as planned.
A pulled hamstring in the fourth week of the season against Patterson forced him to miss the next game. He returned in week 6 against Salmen but played only six snaps and caught one pass for a 15-yard touchdown.
The next week against Brusly, Lewis ran a fade route to start the second half, and that may end up being the last play he participated in during his junior year.
“I felt it (hamstring) tighten up on me at halftime and when I ran that fade I just felt something pull and I immediately hit the ground,” said Lewis. “I don’t know if I’ll be back or not this year.”
In less than four complete games, Lewis caught six passes which was only one away from leading a Wildcat offense that has thrown the ball only 71 times in seven games. His 137 yards and 22.8 yards per catch is tops on the team – along with his 91-yard touchdown reception in week 3 – while his two touchdown grabs is tied for the team lead.
Lewis never really anticipated that he would put up the kind of numbers that some of the other top receivers around the state are logging, but it’s still disappointing. Despite the slight drop-off in production he still feels that he is a better player than he was a year ago.
“It’s been frustrating with the injury and stuff,” he said. “We don’t throw the ball a lot, but I’ve gotten better at a lot of things I did from last year like my blocking and with running my routes. My coaches have helped me get better as a player, and I’ve also used a lot of what I learned from the LSU coaches at camp.”
With his junior season in flux due to his injury, Lewis is spending more time on his academics. He will take the ACT for the first time on Saturday and he says that his core GPA is a 2.0.
If he finishes up in time on Saturday he hopes to make it to Baton Rouge to watch the Tigers play Auburn. He was scheduled to be in attendance for the Florida game, but he says that his hamstring prevented him from being able to make it.
When he does finally make it to Tiger Stadium this season Lewis says that will only make his current stance on LSU even stronger.
“LSU is still at the top of my list,” he said. “I’ve been watching them on T.V. and I like the big receivers that they use in their offense. Living around here, it seems like a good place to get a degree too. I’m open to hear what other schools have to say, but LSU is at the top.”