ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Heading into his second season with the Wolverines, cornerback Jourdan Lewis is yearning to make an impact in the secondary.
In eight appearances as a freshman in 2013, Lewis recorded 17 tackles and two pass break-ups, showing flashes of consistent ability in coverage in spot duty behind veterans Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess.
During Saturday’s spring football game it took Lewis just one play to make his presence felt, baiting senior quarterback Devin Gardner who threw late to freshman wide out Freddy Canteen on a downfield corner route. Lewis jumped the route and came up with an interception for the defense.
“It was just man to man and he (Gardner) thought he was open,” Lewis said laughing afterward.
Lewis’ day wasn’t finished there, spending most of his afternoon playing with the first team defense showing a willingness to step-up in run support.
At just 5-foot-10, 174-pounds, it could be easy to think Lewis isn’t capable of handling the constant power attacks from Big Ten offenses play in and play out but the Detroit native refutes that notion quickly.
“It’s very huge, just getting hands on guys and trying to intimidate them,” Lewis said. “That’s our key point right there, being physical, that’s what Coach (Greg) Mattison is always talking about; be a physical defense.”
Added Lewis, “It’s not really a transition it’s a mindset to be physical.”
Already with a pick of Gardner to start the scrimmage, Lewis later picked on fellow sophomore and quarterback Shane Morris with the afternoon winding down. Morris, appearing to believe his intended target was going to curl to the inside, instead turned out leaving Lewis unabated on his way to a second interception.
Asked if interceptions have been prevalent for him against the offense throughout the spring, Lewis noted more would’ve been fine with him.
“I wouldn‘t say I had a lot,” Lewis said. “But to the offense they would say I had a lot, yeah.”
Although Taylor and Countess have 43 starts combined at cornerback in their careers, Lewis has continued to go about his business in a tight competition for playing time this spring.
“Jourdan’s a very gifted kid,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “He was a freshman a year ago, still a freshman right now, but he’s a talented guy, he’s very athletic. He’s getting stronger, which helps.”
On the competition Hoke added, “That’s a big time competition.”
“We’ve had Ray and Blake have played a lot of plays but the entitlement isn’t here. You’ve got to do it everyday so the competition’s great.”
In his limited time on the field in 2013, Lewis believes he gained critical experience that’s only further enhanced his skillset this off-season.
“I don’t know if it’s about knowing more it’s just about feeling the game,” Lewis said. “Just slowing down and just playing.”
Lewis’ only blemishes of the spring scrimmage came in the form of flags, a total of two, both for pass interference. Asked about the penalties after and Lewis says he didn’t agree with one of them.
“Not the second one,” he said. “Not the second one at all; it was bad. But hey, it goes with the territory; being physical.”