The four-year starter is headed to the next level, just like Dennard, after an outstanding career in the green and white.
So when coach Mark Dantonio said that redshirt freshman Jalyn Powell is a lot like Lewis last week, it is a statement worthy of a headturn.
"That comment means a lot," Powell said. "(Lewis) was a really good player and a really good tackler, so it means a lot."
Powell has been making noise this spring for his tackling ability, as Dantonio also has referred to him as a "hitter" and someone that will be a playmaker. That has been evident this spring after Powell posted a scrimmage-high eight tackles in the second spring scrimmage.
"Plays were just coming to me and I was there to make the play," he said. "It's not much to it, I'm just trying to be there to make the play and keep flying around every play."
In two scrimmages, he had 14 tackles and a forced fumble. But with two players – R.J. Williamson and Demetrious Cox – ahead of him on the depth chart, it might be a longshot that Powell sees the field significantly this fall.
Being third on the depth chart just keeps him motivated, though.
"It pushes me really hard," he said. "I just need to keep fighting hard everyday and not be thinking about who is in front of me."
The motivation started last season, as Powell found himself working on the scout team and not being a big part of a team for the first time in his life.
"I learned to be humble," he said. "I just wanted to play really bad as a freshman and it didn't really happen so I had to humble myself to become the man I needed to be to play now.
"It motivated me a lot. I don't want to be sitting around anymore, I want to be out there playing like I used to."
So Powell has adopted a simple approach to moving forward. It centers on humility, playing hard and trying to get a little better each practice. He also is learning from Williamson and Cox, who both bring more experience to the table.
"Everyday they are just telling me what I need to get better on and helping me out there when I might not know what I'm doing," he said.
But in his pursuit of playing time and all, the praise of Dantonio speaks volumes as Powell works to grow and, hopefully, become a player like Lewis was for the Spartans.
"I've got a lot of growing to do to be at his level," he said, "but I could see myself being there."