As we inch slowly towards the first game of the college football season, we have to find some way to pass the time by. Here at SOTU we’re doing a countdown to kickoff. Each day that peels away from your desk calendar we’ll have a player profile based on said players jersey number. With 92 days left to kick off, the past player we’re going to highlight is Damione Lewis. So you’re aware, in these articles it’s usually two players that are previewed: a past and present player but interestingly enough, there are no canes who don the 92 on the roster heading into next season.
That makes my life easier.
Okay, lets get to Damione Lewis..
Lewis was one of the select few recruits you’ll see on this list that didn’t come from the state of Florida. Lewis played his high school football in the state of Texas and committed to Miami in 1996. If you’ve seen “The U” documentary you know all about the “lean years” in Coral Gables. Miami was going through sanctions and Butch Davis and his staff had to be quite selective with their recruits due to having a scholarship shortage. Essentially, if Davis recruited a player, that commit was going to play and had to make an impact. “Missing” on a recruit was not an option.
After redshirting his first season on campus, Lewis broke out in a major way in 1997 as a freshman. He registered an astounding 72 tackles (from an interior defensive line position that’s amazing) four sacks and a forced fumble. From that point on in his Miami career, offensive coordinators made sure to double team him to lessen his impact in a given game.
Even though his sophomore-through-senior numbers are not as eye-popping as his initial success, he did make his presence known in the Big East Conference. After his junior season concluded, Lewis was awarded second team all-conference recognition and after his senior year he went one level of recognition higher by ascertaining first team all-conference.
While at Miami, Lewis was a constant threat on the interior of the defensive line and also a constant participant. He started and played in 41 of 43 total games as a Cane. His final statistical tally was: 220 career tackles, 15 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Once his senior season concluded and the awards were handed out, Lewis looked to the pro ranks to continue his career and his aspirations weren’t disappointed. In the 2,001 NFL draft Lewis was selected in the first round by the Rams (12th overall). For all the success that Lewis had in the college ranks, it just didn’t seem to materialize to the same level once he was in the pro environment.
Lewis’ time with the Rams can best be summarized as “starting and then stopping.” In his rookie season for the Rams, Lewis participated in 9 games, started three contests and then missed the last seven appearances due to an injury. During his second season in St. Louis he stayed healthy for all 16 games but only was able to garner two starts, one as a defensive end and another as a tackle. The rest of his second year was spent as a rotational player along the defensive line.
For the three seasons of 2,003 - 2,005, Lewis was either the first sub behind the starters along the defensive line or he was the actual starter. He hovered between those two spots. To be fair though, Lewis started 24 of the possible 48 games over those three seasons but the dreaded injury bug took chunks of those seasons away from him (did not play in seven games due to injury).
After his rookie contract expired, Lewis hit the free agent market and was signed by the Carolina Panthers to a two year deal. During that two year span Lewis was again a solid rotational player along the defensive line while sprinkling in a few starts here and there. In those two years for the Panthers, Lewis was able to amass an admirable eight sacks to go along with five starts.
Even though those numbers may sound paltry, the Panthers defense was dominating opponents during those two season that Lewis was assisting on the defensive line. The front office decided to extend another offer to Lewis, this time for 3 years and he accepted.
Unfortunately, this is the NFL after all, Lewis was a key contributor for the first season of the new deal and then in the second year saw his playing time tapper off and so did his impact on the football field. After the 2,009 season where he only registered half a sack, the Panthers cut Lewis.
Even though his career may have been winding down (we’re now heading into Lewis’ 10th season in the league), Lewis again became a free agent and again another team came calling for his services, this time it was the Houston Texans. As a Texan, Lewis was a rotational player that participated in 10 games but had a marginal impact accounting for only 17 tackles on the season and one sack. The Texans released Lewis after one season and he retired from football shortly after that (he had one last stint with the Patriots but it didn’t last very long).
This is usually the section where we talk about the “current” number 92 on the Miami roster but as of this moment, there is no one. Pretty remarkable since there are 85 scholarship players but hey, I digress. Not that he’s on the team anymore, last year’s number 92 was Courtel Jenkins who many of you may remember for his untimely penalties and multiple suspensions during his career. He was dismissed from the program after the conclusion of the 2017 season for violation(s) of team rule(s) and has decided to finish out his senior year at UCONN.
Well, there you have it. 92 days left until kick off and we broke down the best player for Miami who wore the number 92 jersey. Are there any other players you think should honor that distinction? Post below.