Lewis’ pride takes a hit in collision with kicker

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jourdan Lewis

Ann Arbor – You know Jourdan Lewis is feeling better physically when he can confidently walk into a post-practice gathering of media wearing dazzling shiny gold Nike shoes.

They were a birthday gift from his girlfriend.

Then again, maybe the slick gold shoes were meant as a distraction.

In Lewis’ first game of the season last Saturday against Penn State – he missed the first three games with a back strain – Lewis performed well, but one play has been shown multiple times. He was pretty much demolished by gigantic 5-foot-10, 258-pound Penn State kicker Joey Julius on a kickoff return.

“Have I seen it?” Lewis said laughing Tuesday night. “Yeah. I’ve seen it a lot.”

Lewis said players from around the country, like LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Iowa’s Desmond King, have contacted him to poke fun for getting tackled by a kicker.

“That moment wasn’t the best,” Lewis said.

He said he contacted Julius.

“He told me it was luck really,” Lewis said, as he started to laugh. “He don’t like to tackle so he told me it was luck. So I got hit by luck.”

The two exchanged a few messages and Lewis said he was gratified to know Julius also felt the impact of that hit.

“I was glad,” Lewis said, again laughing.

While that hit might have hurt his pride a bit, Lewis admits that his first game back after missing the first three, was tough.

“It really hurt, I have to be honest,” he said. “I haven’t been through anything like that physically in a while. Had to get used to it, get in the training room, and get my body right.”

He said he overdid things in offseason conditioning, which is what caused the strain. Now, he stretches a about 30 minutes before warmups, but knows that taking care of his body is key for this season and in the next stage of his football career.

Lewis wasn’t happy with his performance last week, but admits he’s still shaking off the rust from not playing. Before the season, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Lewis and Jabrill Peppers could both be three-way players.

But Lewis said his primary focus is defense.

“I really don’t know,” Lewis said about playing offense. “I just want to help my team.”

Protesting again

Lewis said he and his teammates who raised their firsts during the national anthem last week before the Wolverines’ game, said they intend to do again on Saturday.

“Yeah, I do, and I’m pretty sure those guys do, too,” Lewis said after practice Tuesday night.

Lewis said he supported what teammate Mike McCray shared Tuesday on social media.

McCray, who joined, among others, Lewis, senior fullback Khalid Hill, redshirt junior offensive lineman David Dawson and freshmen linebackers Devin Busch and Elysee Mbem-Bosse, in the display, offered an explanation.

“The actions during the National Anthem by myself and some of my teammates on Saturday were not intended to disrespect the National Anthem or the Flag that represents our country,” McCray posted Tuesday on social media. “Though our actions did represent our support to Colin Kaepernick and what he started and that was to bring awareness to a problem that is going on in our country.

“He has given so many people a voice and courage to stand up for what we believe is right, just like the people who came before us and sacrificed so much for our freedom and for us to have a voice today. We want to apologize if you felt that we were being disrespectful to the National Anthem or the Flag because we know people who have and who are still fighting for our country. Let’s come together as one and make difference in this great country we live in. #GodBlessAmerica #ComeTogetherAsOne”

Lewis agreed.

“What he said was right,” Lewis said of McCray. “Socially, things have to change in this country.”

He said no one is trying to rally teammates to join in the display.

“A select few guys are trying to do it,” he said. ‘We’re not trying to push anybody that doesn’t want to do anything that they don’t want to do. (It’s) some of the guys who came together who want to evoke change.”