A New Home for Lewis

At 12:10 Friday afternoon, Roy Lewis' life was changed forever. The 5-11, 175-pound cornerback from Los Angeles just completed a journey that saw his college recruitment go from places like Las Vegas to Berkeley, California, to San Jose and his playing career from San Jose, back to Los Angeles, to San Diego, and eventually to Seattle. How did such a young man become so well traveled?

Lewis made an early commitment to UNLV out of Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California, but that would soon change once the Pac-10 started calling. "I committed to Cal-Berkeley, but I ended up signing up with San Jose State," Lewis told Dawgman.com Tuesday night after his first practice in pads with the Huskies.

The story of Lewis' recruitment, eventual signing and his first year at San Jose State could have come straight out of a Tom Clancy novel. "After I took my recruiting trip to Cal, I thought the education was going to be fantastic," he said. "I was getting ready to get into Cal's Law program. San Jose State offered my friend from Narbonne and they told me that his letter didn't mean anything if my letter didn't come through the fax with his. I thought if I signed with Cal my friend wouldn't be able to get into school. I signed with San Jose so my buddy's scholarship could be valid, and then he ended up flunking out. I was left at a university that I didn't want to attend in the first place."

Roy made lemonade out of his recruiting lemon, starting the third game of the season against Nevada as a true freshman, a spot he would never relinquish. "I got an ESPN 'Big Hit of the Week' award when we played Florida," he said. "San Jose was cool. I ended up 7th on the team in tackles with 42, and that was pretty much it."

But not everything was as it should have been. "During the football season, my DB coach got fired for assault on another corner. He ended up choking him. They fired him immediately and replaced him with a graduate assistant. He was good with some of the senior players, because he had played with him. He decided that seniority ruled until the head coach (Fitz Hill) laid down the law. He didn't care if I was in eighth grade. If I could play, he wanted me on the field. There was a big controversy between me and the graduate assistant. With that and my DB coach getting fired, I just decided it was time to get up out of there.

"I started looking around and I was getting ready to sign with UCLA or San Diego State. My buddy Dashon (Goldson) called me up and told me that I might be able to get me into Washington. This happened after I got my release. I didn't believe him, but I sent them my tape and my release and sure enough they called me back and it's been smooth sailing since."

Lewis was so enamored with UW's offer to come and play that he decided to transfer to Montlake sight unseen. "The first time I've seen everything was just three or four days ago when I arrived," he said. "Everything was done through word of mouth. I had never met Coach (Phil) Snow or Coach (Keith) Gilbertson before. I just looked through the internet to see what they looked like. Other than that, everything was just word of mouth."

Snow was the coach that played the biggest role in getting Lewis to Washington, but ultimately it was the influence of two players that got Roy thinking about the purple and gold. "It was good playing with Dashon in high school, so I thought why not play with him at the college level? And I have a cousin, Chris Hemphill, who is also a safety," said Lewis. "I had a reason to come and I was out of school and wanted to get back into school and play some college football. Why not come here, where I have some relatives and friends and everything will be cool? I needed a change of environment."

Lewis will have three years to play three, starting in 2005. He will sit out the 2004 season per transfer rules, but will continue to practice with the team. "Right now they still want me to play corner," he said. "There's going to be some competition next year with Derrick and Sam leaving, so they are looking for somebody to come in and get the job done, try to bring some excitement to the position."

Excitment seems to be the buzz word for Lewis these days. He experienced his first game as a Husky this past Saturday, and had a hard time coming up with enough superlatives when comparing the Washington football experience with San Jose State's.

"Complete 180," he said, matter-of-factly. "The whole atmosphere of big-time college football, from the tailgate parties to the packed stadium, it was crazy. It was awesome. I had never experienced a real tailgate party until this past Saturday. Just to see how the fans are so supportive no matter what's going on ... it's a complete difference from San Jose. Attendance, the facilities ... this is major, big-time college football.

"I'm just excited. I'm happy to be here and I'm ready to play. I'm going to make a major contribution next year, you can count on that."

Roy Lewis Scout Profile

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