Going Dog-digital has all sorts of advantages too, according to this wide receiver. "You have different folders you can go in; offense has theirs, defense has theirs. It just helps you all-around be a better player. Because when you ain't doing nothing and ain't got football on your mind you've got your iPad. Just click on ‘road trip' and just learn. Get back in the game when you aren't doing nothing."
Now to be sure these early August days the Bulldogs more certainly aren't doing nothing. They've been plenty busy since camp opened a week ago with the daily drills and, today, their first scrimmage at Scott Field. All this while attending to their other identity as summer students as semester finals are finished Friday. Then things get even more intense on the field as two-a-days begin.
For Lewis, the fourth-fall junior and first-team slot receiver, the next preseason phase turns up the intensity. Fortunately he's done this August drill before. "I mean it's not different because I've really been working on it for a while. But now I believe it's time for me to step up and make a big play."
That he has been doing. Among the initial impressions has been outstanding work by Lewis with the first offense. Whether in drills, in 7-on-7 or full-team sessions, he's put his maturing skills to best effect with a string of fine catches. Not just that but maybe even finer footwork. Lewis might start in a slot but often as not he's taken a hard turn to the sideline and made a reaching grab while stabbing a toe down just barely inbounds.
"Yeah, we've been practicing that," Lewis said. In fact, "We've been practicing trying to get two feet in, because one foot is good but two is better! Because that's on the next level and that's where everybody is trying to go." For now however one foot will work…as long as Lewis comes down with the ball secured. Interestingly, at observed practices he has made lots of exciting catches only to bobble away more mundane chances.
"That's what I'm trying to work on, too. I've dropped a few but I'm trying to eliminate that and work on the good, positive catch."
This was what Coach Dan Mullen wanted out of Thursday's scrimmage, only to be at times disappointed by drops and route mistakes. Lewis confirmed the coach's comments. "We struggled," he said. "But I'm glad we struggled in the first scrimmage, not the game.
"Me and Tyler (Russell) were talking a while ago that we have to be on the same page, everybody has to be on the same page. And you had a couple of drops, we have to eliminate that, catch some JUGS or something and do whatever it takes just to be better the next scrimmage."
Between now and next Thursday's schedule scrimmage there are chances to get better. As good as he's been so far Lewis understands the need to continue progressing. Not just so he can surpass the ten catches and 108 yards as a 2012 backup to current NFL roster receiver Chad Bumphis. Lewis must pick up his pace to keep a safe lead on some feisty freshmen. Such as, redshirt Brandon Holloway, with his explosive speed and running back's instincts once the ball is in hand. Or any of several true frosh that have wasted no time showing their own ability, athleticism, and greater size for that matter.
Bring it on, Lewis says. The more the merrier in this receivers pack. Or packages.
"It's good always to have competition to push you. Because Brandon is going to push me, I'm going to push him. If he's doing something wrong I'll tell him, he's got the right to tell me. Because we're trying to make each other better."
The getting-better got underway in off-season. While Bulldog throwers and catchers have always assembled on their own, "I just think the summer was different, for some reason," reports Lewis. "I don't know if it was the new facility or what. But everybody, we were out there throwing. Sometimes we'd go out there two times a day and just throw." One obvious result is the increased chemistry with Russell for Lewis, since the quarterback seems to look his way early and often.
Still there are far more alternatives available now with the arrival of De'Runnya Wilson, Fred Ross, Fred Chappelle, Shelby Christy, B.J. Hammond, and even some interesting walk-on receivers. They assuredly serve to keep veterans and redshirts alike on their cleat-toes. Of course they also tantalize with how the varied skills and physiques could adjust that pre-programmed gameplan.
"You know, they're different. They've got size, they'll take the ball in the air. They've been working hard this summer, too, they were out there with us every time we were out there. That's a good thing because they had a jump-start on learning the system, so they know the system and now it's just go make plays.
"Yeah, they have a chance to play. That's one thing about Coach G (Billy Gonzales) he ain't going to leave you on the field if you're tired. He's going to try to keep everybody fresh. That's how you make more plays, everybody gets a chance to get the ball in their hands. With Coach G being there I think it's going to be an exciting year for the receivers."
For himself, Lewis credits a more serious approach between April and August. No, the word should be studious. It isn't as if he took more traditional playbooks lightly understand. Simply, Lewis knew where he stood in the slot-pecking order. To his credit he worked at the craft, as well as vented energies in kick return work.
Now, however, the starting job is his for the taking. Not for the granted, necessarily, so he's plugged into that playbook. "With the iPad it makes it much easier to break the game down. And when you're at home and not doing much you can watch film and break the game down." Besides, he plays for coaches who will spring a question about particular plays at any instant, and woe to those who haven't done homework.
At this point arises the obvious question: is there temptation to treat the tablet as a toy? Welllll… "Yeah, a couple of guys got in trouble in class for watching some other video and not paying attention. But they know what to do now, it's for business." Lewis has kept it all-business, or mostly so. Entertainment aps aren't to be found on his playbook, for example.
"I don't have any. I have a game because my little cousin will want to play when I go home. I ain't worried about it, because I have an iphone and can do whatever I want to on that!
"It's my alarm clock and my playbook, I get on the internet with it. I'm glad to have it. It's not all football, I have social networking on here too. But they gave us the right, as long as we just know when it's time for football it's time for football. But they let us have fun, too. It's a sign of trust because when they first gave it to us they had us private; but when we came back they unlocked it. They trust us so we have to do the right thing to it because we don't want it taken away."
Yeah, especially because without his tablet/clock Lewis might not rise in time for pre-practice meeting. Which would be truly alarming.