Kellen Lewis: Fallen Star

Posted: February 12, 2013 by tklawitt in IU Football
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Former star quarterback Kellen Lewis couldn’t keep it together off the field, often falling victim to his own hype.

Kellen Lewis was Denard Robinson before Denard Robinson. Don’t believe me? Take a few minutes and watch this. So, what happened?

In 2006, Lewis had a breakout season. Named Freshman All-American in 2006 by Rivals.com and The Sporting News, Lewis sprinted onto the scene, literally. He put together one of the best freshman campaigns in IU history. Lewis mirrored Hoosier legend Antwaan Randle El, and joined him as the fourth player ever to account for six touchdowns in a game against Michigan State. Lewis finished the season winning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week twice, and was deservingly voted team Most Valuable Player.

His sophomore season was even better, voted All-Big Ten by ESPN.com and Rivals.com, Second Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. Lewis set the school’s single season record for touchdown passes with 28, and 37 touchdowns responsible for. He was one of three college quarterbacks to throw for at least 3,000 yards and rush for at least 700 yards, joining two Heisman Trophy candidates in Dan LeFevour(Central Michigan) and Tim Tebow(Florida). Yes, I put Kellen Lewis in the same sentence as college-aged Tim Tebow. Put that into perspective. At IU, Lewis was Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week five (5) times, and broke 16 major school quarterback records, leading Indiana to the 2007 Insight Bowl, it’s first bowl game since 1993. Yes, 1993.

In his junior season (2008) he battled some injuries, and only started 9 games. He still played well enough to join Randle El in the IU record books as a player to score 40 touchdowns and reached other plateaus such as 6,250 passing yards, 8,000 total yards, 525 completions and 975 attempts in a career.

So, again, what happened to this kid?

Lewis missed all of spring football in 2008 due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, which could be why he was hurt so much in ’08. And according to an IDS article from July 7th, 2008, Lewis was reinstated at the beginning of August for the start of camp for the 2008 season.

After that so-so (by his standards) 2008 season, things really spun out of control. After previously serving a four month suspension and getting reinstated, Lewis was abruptly moved to wide receiver. If that doesn’t scream “dog house” to you, I’m not quite sure what would. Lewis was disciplined again, and ultimately dismissed from the team for more “undisclosed violations of team rules.” Generally, when something is undisclosed, it’s likely not good. Judging from his own comments from an ESPN.com article on his reinstatement, it looks like he wasn’t involved with the right people, nor the right activities, and apparently didn’t have the best judgment:

“One of the message boards said that I was trafficking cocaine and all sorts of other drugs from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne and back to Bloomington,” Lewis said. “I just wanted to clear the air. I went from going out and partying it out every night and everyone saw me, to the next two months, ‘We can’t even find him, so he must have committed a crime.”

Well, any time you’re linked to cocaine trafficking across the state, I’m guessing you should spend a bit more time in the academic center and weight room than wherever else he was hanging out in Bloomington. It really is a shame too, because the Lynch staff gave him multiple chances, and Lewis could never figure out how to keep it together.

In 2009, Lewis decided to finish out his eligibility, and transferred to Division I-AA Valdosta State in Valdosta, Georgia, still hoping an NFL team would take a shot on him for his talent. Lewis earned Gulf South Conference player of the week once while at Valdosta State, and had back-to-back 300 yard passing, 100 yard rushing games before finding himself in handcuffs. Lewis was arrested by the City of Valdosta Police Department on one count of battery, accused of choking his girlfriend after a dispute.

Either Kellen Lewis is the most targeted and misunderstood athlete of all-time, or he had some serious character issues. Shockingly enough, the Valdosta State Athletic Department and coaches stood behind Lewis, and Lewis ended up playing the remainder of the season with VSU. Lewis finished the 2009 season leading the Blazers in passing and rushing. However, Lewis never did get any serious interest from NFL teams.

While his account is protected, you can tweet him and ask what he’s actually up to today if you’d like — @15KelzDuval, at the very least, maybe get him some followers. That kid was the real deal, what a shame.

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Comments
  1. Kyle B says:

    He’s working w a moving company right now. Me and some friend were playing flag football, at the park. He played a few snaps w us

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