In 2008, Bobby Johnson's Commodores easily surpassed media expectations. Selected to finish last in the SEC East, the Commodores finished in a tie for third with a 4-4 league mark. The record included victories over nationally ranked South Carolina and Auburn, eventual Cotton Bowl champion Ole Miss and eventual Liberty Bowl winner Kentucky.
The media voted Florida unanimously as their projected winner in the SEC East, followed by Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. In the West, Alabama was given the nod in a close decision over LSU and Ole Miss. Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State followed in the ballot.
Lewis, a three-year starter from Pompano Beach, Fla., has been mentioned as a preseason candidate for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. He is also listed among the nation's elite senior cornerbacks by most NFL Draft analysts.
Lewis enters the season off a superb 2008 campaign, when he formed one of the SEC's top cornerback tandems along with All-America recipient and current Chicago Bear D.J. Moore. Lewis finished with five interceptions last year, including game-clinching picks over Auburn and Boston College in the Music City Bowl. He also shared the team lead with five quarterback sacks and set new single-season career highs in virtually every defensive category.
The Commodores open the 2009 season hosting Western Carolina on September 5 in Vanderbilt Stadium. Besides Western Carolina, other opponents on Vanderbilt's six-game home schedule are SEC foes Mississippi State (Sept. 19), Ole Miss (Oct. 3), Georgia (Oct. 17) and Kentucky (Nov. 14), and Atlantic Coast Conference power Georgia Tech (Oct. 31).
SEC PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 64 total votes SEC Champions – Florida (63), Ole Miss (1) Eastern Division 1. Florida (64) 64 2. Georgia 133 3. South Carolina 217 4. Tennessee 258 5. Vanderbilt 317 6. Kentucky 355 Western Division 1. Alabama (33) 109 2. LSU (15) 145 3. Ole Miss (16) 149 4. Arkansas 245 5. Auburn 309 6. Mississippi State 387