Michigan has been developing a bit of a reputation for using two-way players (or, “three-way players” according to Jim Harbaugh, because of special teams), thanks to what guys like Charles Woodson and Jabrill Peppers have been able to do over the years.
Before the season began, Jourdan Lewis talked about throwing his hat in the ring, too - contributing on offense as well as defense and special teams. He wanted to try his hand at what would be impossible for most, to test his mettle and see where he stacked up.
Athletically and preparation-wise, there was a pretty strong chance he could do those things. But with the way this season has gone so far, it looks like the best plan might be for him to focus on just one thing: what got him here.
As fall practice got underway this year, the All-American cornerback spent most of his time on defense, practicing in Don Brown’s new system and helping the younger players. Then, he got injured, which has held him out of three games and still causes him discomfort.
Lewis could still try to play on offense anyway, of course. But the need isn’t there, with Chris Evans and Eddie McDoom both emerging as viable speed options. And, Jourdan would definitely rack up some nasty hits, like this one that he got on special teams the other week. Plus, with Jeremy Clark out for the year with a torn ACL, Lewis will be vitally important for the pass defense to keep playing at an elite level. So, focusing on the defense right now is the wisest move possible for both him and the team.
But it is kind of a shame whenever there’s a box unchecked for a guy as talented, and loyal, as Jourdan has proven to be. A little-known story about Jourdan is that, when he was still on the camp circuit as a high school recruit, Nick Saban saw him play and actually freaked out over how good he was.
"Nick Saban saw Jourdan Lewis working out, and he was walking around saying, 'Who is this kid?'" Cass Tech’s head coach, Thomas Wilcher, told the Free Press. "I was just laughing because Coach Saban was going crazy. Because Jourdan Lewis is making phenomenal catches, snatching the ball out of the air for interceptions with one hand, doing everything.
“He doesn't know who the kid is, so he gets on his phone and he calls all his coaches and recruiting coordinator and had them come over … 'How in the hell can you miss this kid? He's the best athlete that I've ever seen in my life.' It was real funny."
Saban also reportedly told Lewis he was one of the ten best players in the Class of 2013, and would go on to be a star at Michigan. And for Lewis’ part, he never thought about going anywhere else.
"I just always loved the Maize and Blue," he said. "It's what I loved, was attracted to."
So, while it would be really awesome to see Lewis playing on offense, the whole ‘two-way’ plan doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for Jourdan. He may have to settle for being an All-American, future NFL star, and all-around great guy instead. If only we could be so lucky.