The old adage goes fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. When Lone Grove (Okla.) High running back Jeremy Lewis rushed for 1,727 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore, it was impressive.
Impressive but downplayed. At the time, Lewis was around 6-foot and 165 pounds, and there is a strong sense that the competition in southwest Oklahoma, besides Lawton, doesn’t produce many quality players.
Lewis came back his junior season and only topped the numbers. Now at 6-1, 190 pounds, Lewis put himself on the recruiting map with 2,224 rushing yards on 246 attempts with 31 touchdowns.
“He’s that rare combination of size and speed,” Lone Grove coach Jeremy Turner said. “He was a track athlete that has really blossomed into a football player.”
Lewis was at Oklahoma’s camp last summer and became a frequent visitor to Norman for home games last season. He made one more trip to Norman last month for OU’s first junior day.
In other words, as he has grown in size so, too, has the interest on the recruiting trail.
“It was a lot of fun to get a chance to be there,” Lewis said. “I was able to get a lot of one-on-one time and really get to know the coaches.”
Lewis said during his unofficial visits he had briefly talked to then-running backs coach Cale Gundy. Junior day was different, however, as he spent a lot of time with OU coaches Jay Boulware and Lincoln Riley.
Lewis said he hears from at least one OU coach on social media every single day, but it’s still unclear if he’ll be one to get an OU offer at running back.
For all the talent Lewis has, running back is not even close to a position of need for the Sooners. His coach is happy the recognition is starting to come to his prized pupil.
“Southern Oklahoma is just not really known as a big-time area for football in terms of sending kids to the next level,” Turner said. “Traditionally, it’s just not an area college school come to look for talent. We’re trying to put ourselves on the map.”
Turner is not wrong. There are some recent examples such as wide receiver Justin Blackmon (Plainview), linebacker Jackson Dillon (Ringling) and Ringling’s Riley Daniel signed with Baylor in February. Still, the numbers are few and far between.
“I’m just going to do whatever it takes to get noticed,” Lewis said. “I feel like I can compete against the best of the best. I just want the chance.”
The plan was simple for Lewis. He had to get his weight up and Lewis said all he did was eat. His coaches said eating plus weightlifting would lead to good things.
It has, and his strength has shown so far. In the last two seasons, Lewis has fumbled once. It was the first game of his sophomore season, and he put it on the ground. He said it would never happen again.
“It killed him,” Turner said. “He’s such a tough, hard-nosed runner. He has always been really fast and good with the ball in his hands, but he’s learned to finish his runs now, to finish with his pads going forward.”
Lewis has worked hard to earn the recruiting attention and it should only continue during the spring evaluation period. But he’s still getting accustomed to the attention.
“He doesn’t understand it sometimes,” Turner said. “He’ll be the first to talk about the team and credit his offensive line, but I’m so glad things are starting to pick up for him. He’s a great kid.”