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Team that signs LB Lewis getting 'ferocious hitter'

Brookhaven linebacker Leo Lewis has largely shut down answering his phone these days -- and who can blame him?

Monday, his coach, Tommy Clopton, shed a little light into what the star linebacker is going through.

Below is a little more on Lewis the player from his coach.

As a junior, Lewis really caught the attention of recruiters after racking up 100 tackles, 5.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and 8 TFLs. Clopton said Lewis received his first offer just before Thanksgiving and had five SEC offers within a week.

"I think it was exciting at first and then the burden began to wear a little bit of 'this is real, it's not going to stop, these people don't sleep," Clopton said.

Lewis' production took a step back this year as he recorded 76 tackles and and just 1.0 sack. Clopton attributed the dip to teams beginning to gameplan away from Lewis.

"He had a lot of explosive plays. Going through the offseason he put on about 25 pounds heading into the year. It was different. As a junior, nobody knew who he was," Clopton said. "Obviously other high school coaches watched the film and could see there's a good football player, but once you have eight SEC offers and then Florida State and other schools are on the board, it kind of changes the game a little bit.

"Now those blocking schemes are geared around trying to block you. ... It made for a challenging year at times for him."

While Lewis is committed to Ole Miss he still -- as his coach said in today's article -- dangles that carrot out there that he's open because he still takes other visits.

Lewis, a one-time Alabama commit who is currently pledged to Ole Miss, visited Starkville last weekend. He's still expected to visit Ole Miss this weekend and LSU next weekend.

MSU ties

Heading into his recruiting cycle, Clopton said, Mississippi State was the only college Lewis really had any ties to.

"He has a lot of connections to Mississippi State as far as friends and those kinds of things, but he's made friends at all of them," Clopton said. "Going into all of this (MSU) was the only college he had a connection with. He had been to camp there, a guy who had coached him as a freshman played there. There were some local guys from Brookhaven who had played there."

Once the "dead period" ended on Jan. 15, Brookhaven was madhouse with recruiters. Ole Miss, MSU, LSU and Texas A&M all stopped by to see Lewis.

"Our kids and counselors got a big kick out of seeing those guys because you see them on TV all the time and, like it or not, that's important in Mississippi," Clopton said. "Those guys have important positions."

Lewis, the player

So, what about Lewis the player? What is the team that ultimately signs Lewis getting?

For starters, Clopton said Lewis is 6-foot-2 "sock-footed" and played at about 230 pounds during his senior season. Clopton believes Lewis could easily play at 240 pounds once he's in a college weight program.

He also said Lewis' football IQ jumps out.

"The thing they're going to get with Leo is a great football intelligence. He called all of the signals for us defensively," Clopton said. "He does a great job of studying film and picking up on small tendencies and having a feel for the game."

Clopton said Lewis has been a tenacious player who looks for contact.

"The school he signs with is getting a guy who can be a ferocious player. That's not exactly a PC word in this day in age, but he is," Clopton said. "You want them to be choir boys walking down the street and then (ferocious hitters) on the field. He posses that mean streak.

"He has a physical nature and likes contact. They're going to get somebody who is going to stick his nose in there and be a physical player and hopefully rises to the challenges they give him."

Recruiting analysts saw some of that physicality from Lewis during the All-American bowl season. recently bumped Lewis up 34 spots from the No. 77 player in the country to No. 43.

For more on Lewis, be sure to checkout today's article that ran on the SEC page.