The 2006 season was rolling along just fine for frosh Wide Receiver Kendrick Lewis.
He was starting to get the hang of his fast-paced surroundings and was getting a little playing time in the WR rotation.
Then, out of the blue, Lewis suffered a "freak" injury. He broke a bone in his hip during the week prior to the Arkansas game and was finished for the year.
"It was a weird injury. How often do you break your hip?" he asked rhetorically. "To break your hip is not something you expect. Injury is part of football, but that one was strange."
Fortunately for Kendrick, he didn't have to have surgery to repair the break - it healed with rest.
"I just had to stay off it and not put any pressure on my hip. I was on crutches for six or seven weeks," he explained. "Now, I'm 100%.
"When I first started back trying to work out, it would ache some. Now, I'm straight. I have all my strength back in the hip."
During his rehab, Kendrick worked hard on the areas he could. The payoff was 23 extra pounds of good weight.
"When I reported last year, I weighed 173 pounds. Now, I am 196," he continued. "It's good weight. I am bigger, faster and stronger. I didn't waste my time during rehab.
"I worked really hard on my core strength, doing everything I could. Everything just followed from there."
Kendrick was on the cusp of playing more when the injury happened. Unfortunately, it happened late in the season and he does not qualify for a medical redshirt. What he got out of his freshman year is what he'll have to - in a way of speaking - live with.
"I feel I'm at a better level now than when I got here last year. Like I said, I'm bigger and faster and now I've got knowledge of the system and what it takes to play wide receiver on this level," he stated. "When I first got here, I didn't know much about reading coverages. I also didn't know some simple things like where to sit in zones and how to make little adjustments to get open.
"Looking back, I guess it's all part of my development, but the simple things you don't know make a big difference when you learn them."
Kendrick said he had a tendency last year to get jammed at the line of scrimmage last year when corners were in press coverage. He doesn't think that will be the case this year.
"My strength will help me there, plus I have learned how to use my hands more effectively to get off jams and to work my releases better," Kendrick added. "I've always had good hands. Now, I feel like I can be more of a physical presence at wide receiver. I really feel this year I wilkl reach a new level."
Kendrick hopes to iron out all the rough spots in spring training and make his mark on the WR rotation. He knows only one thing will make that happen.
"Football on this level is a lot of hard work. You put in the effort, it will pay off. It all boils down to outworking the next guy and consistency. Those are two things I will strive for in spring," Lewis said.
Lewis, like all the WRs, will be working with a new coach this year. Matt Lubick got a position at Arizona State and last year's TE coach, Hugh Freeze, was moved out wide.
Kendrick doesn't think the change will be that big a deal.
"Both of them are great coaches. Coach Freeze is teaching the same things Coach Lubick was. I haven't seen much of a difference. They are both teachers and both of them know the offense and what our positions are supposed to do," he assessed.
From what Lewis has seen thus far in voluntary workouts, he's excited about the Rebel football squad.
"We are together. That's the main thing. Our quarterbacks are really focused and our receivers are making plays in voluntary workouts. I think we are going in the right direction," he closed. "I see a whole lot of leadership from Brent (Schaeffer) and I see everyone following his lead.
"Seth Adams, Cliff Davis, Michael Herrick and Jevan Snead can all get the ball to you in a hurry. We are excited about all of them."
Lewis' "competition" this spring will come from a lot of angles - Dexter McCluster, Marshay Green, Shay Hodge, Mico McSwain, Michael Hicks and Mike Wallace, who all played last year, return at the WR slots.
Kendrick wants to make sure he's not the forgotten man in the picture.
Kendrick Lewis update -
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