By Justin Whitaker
— Former Ben Davis High School safety Isaiah Lewis is doing the Giants justice at Michigan State.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound strong safety started Spartan spring practice for his senior season two weeks ago. As one of the leaders of the ninth-ranked scoring defense (16.3 points per game) in 2012, Lewis believes this year can be just as good.
“We had a top ranked defense last year, so we fed off of that,” he said. “We’ve got more talent coming in and guys are going to keep competing.”
Lewis said he feels like the chemistry of the Michigan State players was instrumental in holding 10 teams below 20 points during last season’s 7-6 record.
“Everybody we have feels close together, we never miss a beat and we’re always on the same page,” he said.
Lewis is a three-year letterwinner that has started 27 consecutive games at strong safety since his sophomore year. He has racked up 169 tackles, 16 passes defended, and six interceptions during his three seasons.
NFLDraftScout.com has Lewis rated as the sixth best strong safety for the 2014 NFL Draft. He was also on the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list for the top defensive back in college football. Around this time next year, Lewis might be preparing to hear his name called in the NFL draft.
“I know I have the talent, but I just have to stay out of trouble,” he said. “I have to stay focused on that and keep my mind on the goals. Going to the NFL is one of my lifelong goals and to lose that over something stupid would be heartbreaking. That would mess up everything I ever wanted.”
Being only a season away to hopefully fulfilling a dream is exhilarating to Lewis.
“It’s really exciting, this is just another step toward it,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always worked for my whole life. It’s something I’ve always wanted to have. It’s crazy to think about how the time went by so fast. It’s crazy to think about how I’m almost a step away from what I’ve always wanted.”
Lewis said he knows that in order to make the leap to the NFL he’ll have to improve on his overall game- and career-high 80 tackles last year. With more experience, comes more responsibility and Lewis is ready for his senior season.
“I already know I need to have the best season of my career,” he said. “I’ve been picked as one of the leaders of the team so I have to step up as a leader. It’s kind of natural for me to be a leader so it’s not really far for me.”
The experience of playing Spartan football has been especially rewarding for Ben Davis’ seventh all-time leading tackler because of the support from others.
“Just being around the people, it’s the main reason I came here in the first place,” Lewis said. “The fans here are crazy. They support the team. They are ride or die fans, they never really give up on you. I just love the environment. They’re really crazy about football up here. It’s like their No. 1 thing.”
Lewis’ favorite memory during his time at Michigan State so far was his sophomore year against rival Michigan.
The Wolverines trailed 21-14 in the fourth quarter and were driving when Lewis picked off quarterback Denard Robinson and took it 39 yards for a touchdown to seal the win for the Spartans.
“You just heard Spartan Stadium just erupt and go crazy,” Lewis said. “In that kind of caliber game, it was crazy for me. I was excited and I’ve always dreamed about an experience like that being the main focal point of the game, making the play to end the game.”