Road to the Pros: LSU Guard Damien Lewis' Rise From JUCO to NFL Draft Pick a True Testament of Perseverance

Harrison Valentine

Like every member of the LSU offensive line unit -- winners of the 2019 Joe Moore Award -- Damien Lewis showed tremendous progress and improvement throughout his tenure in Baton Rouge.

His story aligns with many of his former teammates on last year’s national championship team. He’s a guy who always had a chip on his shoulder, put his head down, and proved a lot of people wrong along the way.

Lewis was undervalued and under-recruited at Canton High School in Canton, Mississippi, holding no four-year scholarship offers by the time he graduated, forcing him to play two seasons of Junior College in 2016 and 2017. But by earning Second-Team JUCO All-American honors in consecutive seasons for his performance, Lewis began to explode onto the scene, becoming a priority target for many DI programs across the country.

Committing to LSU on Nov. 26, 2017, Lewis stepped on campus as one of the nation's top junior college offensive lineman, rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals for his stint at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

The 6-foot-3, 332 pounder proved himself from the minute he arrived, starting in all 28 games over the past two seasons. Lewis garnered First Team All-America honors in 2019 from The Athletic and second team All-SEC recognition from both the SEC Coaches and Associated Press.

“Thick and powerful,” said Joe Marino of The Draft Network. “Dominates in drive block situations. Love the way he unlocks his hips and accelerates his feet to create vertical push and widen run lanes. Aggressive worker in the run game but does a great job of staying controlled. Sets a consistent base and generally plays with low pads which helps him take over if his hands are fit.”

Look at The Mock: Lewis is a projected third-round selection to the Kansas City Chiefs [CBS Sports].

Most Intriguing Destination: One spot where Lewis could fit is in Carolina, with the possibility of rejoining LSU’s former passing game coordinator Joe Brady and former offensive lineman Trai Turner. The Panthers are likely to draft an offensive lineman, so why not Damien Lewis?

“I’ll be happy to go wherever and play for whoever drafts me,” Lewis told Justin Melo of DraftWire. “I’m gonna make the best of it. We ran a little bit of everything at LSU. We ran some zone blocking, we did some wide zone, some inside zone. We ran some gap blocking as well. It doesn’t matter. LSU prepared me for everything.”

Writer’s Note: With the NFL Draft just under six weeks from now, concerns surrounding COVID-19 will likely force the league to make some tough decisions in the coming weeks. For Lewis and the other LSU draft prospects, the early rounds in Las Vegas were primed to be dominated by Tigers. Stay tuned for updates as the situation develops.

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