2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Chris Lewis

After a tumultuous senior season, Chris Lewis knows what it is like to face adversity. In fact, it is these hard times that the former Stanford signal caller feels will assist his transition to Pro football. Lewis will have his first chance to prove he belongs today, March 10th, at his Cardinal Pro Day.

Chris Lewis, a five year senior coming off the back of a frustrating and injury ridden junior season, was benched during an ineffective performance in this year's season opening 31-10 victory over San Jose State. His replacement Troy Edwards came off the bench to lead the team to 31 straight points, effectively cementing his role as the Cardinals starting quarterback.

Lewis, though, is typically philosophical about such hard times. "Looking back on it, (being benched) was a learning experience," he said. "I have been through it all. I have been the hero and – not the hero."

As the 1998 recipient of the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year, owner of multiple California State passing records and a consensus Prep All-American, Lewis was heralded as one of the brightest young prospects in football upon coming out of high school. It was under his guidance that the Cardinals offense was expected to flourish, and his college career started in almost fairytale like circumstances; as a sophomore, Lewis replaced current Carolina Panthers backup Randy Fasani to overcome a 42-28 deficit and in turn hand the Oregon Ducks their first home defeat in nearly 2 years. But injuries, suspensions, and inconsistent performance meant that Lewis never played a full season in college, and he could never better such an achievement, nor capitalize on such a bright start.

Despite his happy go lucky personality, prototypical size, and clear passion to play the game, some scouts will question Lewis' ability to stay fit, and specifically the shoulder he had rotator cuff surgery on in 2003.

"I know I can make it in this league," he remarks confidently. "With my injury my junior year and a mediocre year this past year I figured it would be like that. It is kind of fun. You are kind of on the edge of your seat. You would think I would be a stress ball."

In fact, it is this cool, calm, So-Cal demeanor, along with his standout athletic ability, that Lewis feels will assist his transition into the big league and backup his outward confidence.

"You have enough time?" Lewis laughs when asked what he perceives his biggest strengths to be. "I have always said my composure – being able to keep my cool throughout the whole game. I have had games where I came in the last seconds to win a game and I have all the athletic ability that any other QB in the league, besides Vick, has. That is a given and what sets me apart is my cool, calm composure."

Working with top prospects Ben Roethlisberger, Casey Clausen, Jared Lorenzen and Casey Bramlet has been a help to Lewis, and his attitude towards this arrangement is typical of his desire to improve and work his way into the NFL. He jokes about each man being ripped for throwing bad passes and describes himself and the other three as, "Competitors. We all want to go out there and make the perfect throw."

Perhaps most admirable is his belief that all four men simply wish to help each other. When asked how the arrangement is working out, Lewis replies, "We spend so much time off the field that it becomes a light hearted event every time we practice. There are no bad egos out there; we are just trying to get better."

One of the key questions thrown at Lewis over the past few months was being overlooked to the ‘invite only' NFL scouting combines in Indianapolis. When asked how he hopes to overcome such rejection, Lewis clearly sees it as just another hurdle for him on the way to being an NFL Quarterback.

"Life happens that way and you just have to play the cards you are dealt with," he shrugs.

On the 10th and 23rd of March, many teams will pay special interest to this once standout prospect's pro day. For Lewis, the dates will mark his last chances to prove that his confidence in his own ability is not misplaced. If he can stay fit, few doubt that this cool, collected, strong armed and athletic quarterback could be a great success in the NFL. But Lewis knows better than anyone that now is the time to prove that his confidence in his own abilities is on the mark.

"I am eager to get back out there and prove to people that I am going to be a starter in the NFL" he remarks defiantly ""The tenth is my day to shine and I am going to do all that."

Denis Savage contributed to this report

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