University of Michigan Wolverines
Cave Creek, Arizona
Chaparral High School
Cactus Shadows High School
The emotionally charged offensive tackle is the type that coaches and teammates love, but opponents hate, as his mantra when he steps on the football field is "take no prisoners."
While there are times where his aggression will lead to costly penalties, even the defensive linemen that combat him each week have the utmost respect for Lewan, knowing that he is the type of opponent that will leave everything out on the football fields.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and a former Wolverine offensive tackle legend is flattered that scouts and coaches are constantly comparing Lewan's style of play and exceptional athletic ability to that of current St. Louis Rams left tackle, Jake Long. Comparing the two shows very similar styles and paths taken.
Both started as redshirt freshmen for the Wolverines at left tackle. Both wear No. 77 and both are imposing physical athletes — Lewan at 6-foot-6 and Long at 6-foot-8. But Lewan understands that any comparisons are thanks to the hard work ethic that the Wolverine senior has put forward, again similar to than of Long.
The two linemen actually met during Lewan's freshman year on the sideline during the Ohio State game in Ann Arbor. "He's just standing there, and he's a very large individual," Lewan said. "I had my shoulder pads on and he was still wider than me. It was a little bit ridiculous." Long was the first overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft and anchored the Miami Dolphins line before joining the Rams last season.
Lewan remembers that he received a short, simple message from his predecessor. "You better do something with that number," Long told him. With three All-American selections and a trio of All-Big Ten Conference honors, Lewan has more than lived up to the message sent to him three years ago.
Lewan was a highly sought after recruit who first began his prep career as a defensive end while lettering three times at Cactus Shadows High School. As a sophomore, he posted 50 tackles and five sacks, followed by 46 tackles and two sacks during his junior year. As a senior, he was on the move, first, transferring to Chaparral High School and then to the offensive line, where he helped lead his team to the Class 4A-I state championship game in 2008.
The move to the offensive line thrust Lewan to near the top of the recruiting charts. Lewan was accorded four-star status from Scout.com, as the Super Prep All-American was rated as the 10th-best overall offensive line prospect by that service. The Under Armour All-American game participant was the recipient of the 2008 Frank Kush Award, given to the state of Arizona's top interior offensive lineman. The Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune placed him on their all-state first teams and he also received Desert Sky first-team All-Region accolades at Chaparral High.
In his first season playing with the varsity at Michigan, Lewan earned Freshman All-American honors from College Football News. He began the 2010 campaign performing in the goal-line package, but by the Wolverines' fourth game on the schedule, vs. Bowling Green, he took over left tackle duties and would not relinquish the position for Michigan's next 49 games.
When Brady Hoke arrived to take over as the Wolverines' head coach in 2011, he met with each of his new players. His meeting with Taylor Lewan went longer than most. The topic?
Cut down on the penalties. "I knew it was coming," said Lewan, who had rapidly gained the reputation for punishing defensive linemen as punishing his own team during their 7-6 2010 campaign. "You can't watch last year's film without noticing there were some penalties, and I'll take part of that blame. I'll put that on me a little bit."
Lewan had started seven regular-season games as a redshirt freshman and was imposing from the start. But he also had to be lifted from multiple games as his temper got the better of him. He finished with seven penalties and two personal fouls in that span and the team failed to pick up another first down after six of those penalties. The seventh came on an extra-point attempt.
Lewan said being a smarter player is part of growing up. "I'm an old man now. This is ridiculous. My knees hurt now," Lewan quipped. "Just got to be smart, learn the game of football. Looking back on it, I didn't know anything about the game (last year)."
Lewan still remains a physical force at tackle. He's gregarious and eccentric (remember that finger-stache in 2011?). He's likeable, honest, sharp, hilarious — and flat-out nasty up front. But, he realized under Hoke that if he hoped to ever become a first-round draft pick, that he would have to play under control. Seemingly the only things holding him back were his emotions and discipline.
As for the finger-stache - Lewan gained cult status among some of the Michigan football followers after a short interview where he displayed a tattoo of a mustache he has on the inside of his right index finger. In the interview, he displayed how the tattoo should be used, putting his finger on his upper lip, taking on an English gentleman voice and saying: "Listen Miss, I just wanna dance!"
With coach and player both agreeing with the assessment, Lewan went back to doing what he does best. "There's no better feeling than taking one guy from one place and pushing him somewhere else against his will," he said. With his left tackle dominating in the trenches, where he produced 12 touchdown-resulting blocks, Hoke's first season at Michigan in 2011 ended with an 11-2 record and a berth in the Sugar Bow, as his left tackle received All-Big Ten Conference recognition.
In 2012, Lewan was a consensus All-American first-team choice and named the Big Ten Conference's Offensive Lineman of the Year. He registered a league-high 17-touchdown resulting blocks along with pacing the conference with 128 knockdowns. The team gained 4,980 yards (383.08 ypc) in total offense and the line matched their previous season's figure by allowing only eighteen sacks.
As a senior, Lewan was again the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year and repeated his selection on most All-American teams. The young offense with a new quarterback went through some "growing pains" in 2013, slipping to a 7-6 record, but the left tackle was his old, dominating self, delivering 18 touchdown-resulting blocks, a remarkable feat, considering the running corps was held to just 125.69 yards per game, the lowest average during the senior's four seasons in the lineup.
Lewan started his final 49 games at left tackle for Michigan, recording 362 key blocks/knockdowns…In 52 contests, he also registered 55 touchdown-resulting blocks…Also gained 11 yards after scooping up the ball and advancing it vs. Purdue in 2010…The tackle is only the ninth Michigan offensive lineman to be a starter for four seasons for the Maize and Blue.