Meet and Greet: Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis
At first glance Lewis might not look like the prototypical NFL running back, but that is nothing new to his ears. Coming out of high school, he was the 20th ranked running back in the country, with only three offers; Tulane, Miami (OH), and Pitt. Entering his freshman year at Pitt, he had big shoes to fill with LeSean McCoy leaving for the NFL draft. That hole was filled quickly when Dion started the opening game of the 2009 season with 129 yards, two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown against Youngstown State. He followed that up with 9 more games of at least 100 yards rushing including 159 yards in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against North Carolina. I had an eye witness account to his best game that year in the final game of the regular season against Cincinnati where he had 47 rushes for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns. His big game included a stretch where he ran the ball 11 straight times and caught a pass on a 12 play 56 yard drive that ended with a four yard touchdown run by Lewis. Neither the Bearcats nor the snow that day could stop him. He finished the season with 1,799 yards and 17 TD’s which earned him Big East Player of the Year along with Big East Rookie of the Year and was unanimous first team All-Big East selection. He earned second team All-America from AP, SI.com, Sporting News and both Rivals and Scout.com.
Entering his sophomore year, Lewis was on many Heisman watch charts and many expected him to have another great year. Lewis finished the year with 1,061 yards rushing and 13 TD’s with 216 yards receiving. The numbers were not as high as the previous year because he split time with running back Ray Graham. His highlight of the season was once again against Cincinnati in the final regular season game where he had 42 rushes for 261 yards and 4 TD’s. Lewis followed that game up with 105 yards rushing and 1 TD against Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Dion is projected to be drafted in the mid to late rounds, with some seeing as high as late 3rd round. Dion’s size is a big strike against him; he measured in at 5’7’’ and 193lbs at the combine last month. His 40 yard dash at the combine was clocked at 4.57 which was not as fast as expected especially from a smaller back, but at Pitt’s recent Pro-Day he ran a 4.47. Although small in stature, he was a real work horse at Pitt, carrying the ball 544 times in just two seasons. He has a great burst off the line and has the ability to find holes quickly and make cuts in traffic. He also has good hands, catching 52 passes for 405 yards in his two seasons. Most importantly he is a play maker. Lewis always came up with the big first down or touchdown when Pitt needed it and I see him taking those skills into the NFL and becoming a solid 3rd down back for many years to come.
Deem: How has the whole pre-draft experience been so far?
Lewis: The pre-draft experience has been great. It’s a once in a lifetime experience so I’m trying to enjoy it.
Deem: Where have you been training? And with who?
Lewis: I’ve been training in Miami with Bommarito training.
Deem: What were a few key factors that led to your decision to enter the draft?
Lewis: I had two great years at Pitt and I felt it was the right time to try to achieve my lifelong dream. And the career of a Running Back is short.
Deem: What is your strongest area in your game? What are you working to improve on?
Lewis: My strongest areas in my game are my quickness and vision. I’m working on my technique in pass protection.