Unconventional Path Guides Bruising G Damien Lewis to Seahawks
SEATTLE, WA - Just five years ago, newly-drafted Seahawks guard Damien Lewis was an under-recruited prospect facing an uncertain football future.
Playing for a school with just 35 players on the team and dealing with academic eligibility concerns, Lewis didn't receive a single offer from a Division I football program. Undeterred by the lack of interest, however, he decided to take the junior college path, enrolling at Northwest Mississippi Community College in 2016.
"I’ve been overlooked my whole life," Lewis commented. "I had to just take the long route for everything."
With his father incarcerated on drug charges at a young age, Lewis was forced to grow up fast, helping his mother take care of his three younger brothers. His family also had to deal with the repercussions of Hurricane Katrina, leaving no shortage of adversity.
Considering everything he had overcome in his life, Lewis wasn't about going to give up his dreams of playing big-time college football, even if God had a unique journey coursed for him to get there.
Fast forwarding to the present, there's no path Lewis would have rather taken.
Quickly emerging as one of the best linemen in the JUCO ranks and earning three-star recruit status, Lewis earned All-American honors in both seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College and graduated in 18 months. This time around, he had 17 offers on the table as he considered where he would continue his playing career, but his decision wasn't a difficult one once LSU entered the picture.
Immediately installed as a starter at right guard for the Tigers, Lewis played in all 28 of their games over the past two seasons, including starting all 15 games for the national championship squad in 2019. He starred alongside center Lloyd Cushinberry on the nation's best offensive line, which was awarded the Joe Moore Award.
Considering the long, difficult road traveled to become a legitimate NFL prospect, it's only fitting that Lewis' efforts would result in him also landing with his favorite team.
Recently, Lewis found himself in a hotly contested Madden game while playing as the Seahawks. After running the ball down his opponents' throat, which would have generated the approval of his new coach Pete Carroll, his best friend proved to be a prophet, predicting he would wind up in the Pacific Northwest.
Weeks later, the prediction came to fruition as Seattle traded back five slots into the third round before using its 69th overall selection to draft the 6-foot-2, 327-pound guard, who should have no issues fitting in schematically and stylistically.
Just as he did to his friend on the console, Lewis excels in the run game, a must-have in Seattle's offense. Known for his Herculean lifting exploits, including squatting over 600 pounds and bench pressing 475 pounds, his power translates to the field as he has a knack for driving defenders off the ball and racking up pancake blocks.
"We did a little of everything," Lewis said while reflecting on the Tigers' ground game. "Spread guys out, do gap plays, true inside [zone], some wide zone. We did pretty much everything. I'm just gonna bring that mean, nasty, and tough with what I got. Don't change for nobody."
Lewis also prides himself in versatility and preparation, which have been vital to his transformation to a lightly recruited high school talent to a legitimate NFL prospect. Though he only played right guard in games for LSU, he's comfortable snapping at center as well as left guard and would play tackle in a pinch if asked to.
While pass protection remains a work in progress for Lewis in some regards, he battled against elite defensive tackles such as top 10 selection Derrick Brown. He managed to give up just five sacks and 13 pressures in over 1,000 snaps, holding his own against the best competition college football had to offer.
Playing with a permanent chip on his shoulder that Carroll and general manager John Schneider covet, Lewis knows his journey isn't finished yet. Being drafted by the Seahawks is just the beginning of the next chapter in his story and after speaking with quarterback Russell Wilson following his selection, he's already gearing up to chase his next dream.
"Everything that I bring to the table with Seattle, you know I'm coming to give my all, put my soul on the line, and just come to compete every day. Someday we can hopefully win the Super Bowl."