Lewis would need 52 catches this season to climb into the top 50 on the Pac-12 career receptions list. And WSU's receiving corps took a decided downturn after River Cracraft was injured late last year. But Lewis is intent on making sure there is no repeat in 2017.
"I definitely want to take on a bigger role and make more plays," said Lewis. "I definitely know I can be ‘that guy’ if I continue to work hard and work on my game."
He said he's been working with Luke Falk this offseason in order to even better anticipate what the other is going to do before he does it.
"If we have a 5-yard out and a Cover-2, it's about knowing when (you're going to be). He trusts me with that," said Lewis.
Having grayshirted and redshirted, Lewis said there's an extra responsibility of leadership as a fifth-year senior.
"There definitely is -- Coach (Jason) Loscalzo is telling me all the time (that I) lead by example all the time but I need to work on my vocal leadership. I’m an older guy, I’ve been improving year after year with my weight room stuff, so I am trying to be more vocal and be more that type of leader. I’m a quiet guy so at first it was uncomfortable but now I’m taking on the role, trying to grab it and go more and more," said Lewis.
That mentorship for Lewis has extended to the younger inside receivers, such as second-year freshman Renard Bell.
"Me and Luke watch film so it’s just telling those guys what he wants, where he wants them to be," said Lewis. "And then also them kinda learning from my mistakes and telling them about what I struggled with."
Those struggles included getting past a bad play.
"I would make mistake and then it would be three plays and I was still thinking about it. But Coach Leach preaches ‘next play, next play’ so I got better at that. You have to realize you’re going to make mistakes but as long as you keep playing fast and leave it in the past, you’ll be good," said Lewis.
We asked Lewis what he'd learned from those receivers who came before him and with Cracraft, Gabe Marks and Dom Williams, it was the same thing: never be complacent.
"River is a very hard worker. There were times everyone else was leaving practice or leaving the building and he was always staying behind to work, catching extra passes, running extra routes, he was in the film room a lot -- and he had a good feel for when to sit in holes, when to stop, finding open spaces because he was watching so much film ... I've been watching a lot of film this offseason. Gabe, he's a perfectionist. There were times you come out of routes and Gabe would say 'Lower your pad level coming out of that.' Dom Williams, he would speak more of things not to do and to learn from his mistakes. He taught me to be patient with routes," said Lewis.
ON HIS OFFICIAL visit as a recruit to Washington State, Lewis weighed all of 140 pounds. Just before spring ball kicked off this past Thursday, Lewis hopped on the scale.
“I weighed in at 173,” Lewis said.
Anthony White Jr. and Jamire Calvin -- at around 160 pounds each -- are relative giants compared to where Lewis was as a high school senior, so what advice would he give them for bulking up and thriving in the Pac-12?
"I would tell them to buy into the system with the shakes and the weight room -- everything," said Lewis. "Don't slack off or eat badly or eat junk food. Because anybody can put on 'bad weight.'"
Lewis came to WSU from the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles . The race riot there in 1965 seems like it permanently shaped the image of Watts in the national eye with one burned out store front after another. But that was more than 50 years ago.
"Watts made me the person I am today ... my dad stayed on me and made sure I definitely did the right thing ... it taught me to be a tough person and to want to do better, so that area looks better," said Lewis.
Back in 2012, CF.C brought together Lewis and all of WSU's newly signed recruits from southern California for a photo shoot at the Rose Bowl (see below). We asked Lewis if he recalled what all was said when they came together that day.
"We all just talked about coming in and trying to play right away, and to change the program," Lewis said simply.
He wouldn't pick a winner but Lewis tabbed these five as the fastest Cougs on the team this spring: C.J. Dimry, Darrien Molton, Gerard Wicks, Jalen Thompson and Robert Taylor.
FROM 2012, KACHE PALACIO IN FRONT. BACK ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: JEREMIAH ALLISON, BRETT BARTOLONE, GABE MARKS, ROBERT LEWIS, THERON WEST AND NIU SALE