CNHI News Services
Inside the locker room, Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis is the voice of the Cowboys defense — loud, assertive and passionate.
But when it comes to personal accomplishments? Not so much.
“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Lewis said. “I could have a poor season and everybody else would write you off.”
It seems like most people already have. As members of the media flocked to guys like Calvin Barnett, Jeremy Smith and Tracy Moore, Lewis, a preseason all-Big 12 selection, sat idly and watched.
And that’s fine by him.
“Shaun’s worried about today’s practice more than anything,” Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “He probably studies tape more than anybody on defense.”
Even for an all-Big 12 selection he may not be getting the attention he deserves yet, but it’s hard to imagine a Cowboy defense without No. 11 on the field. Lewis has been a starter since he was a freshman and has been a key to Oklahoma State’s defensive success.
“I’ve seen Shaun since his freshman year,” Spencer said. “He was very mature then. He’s been steady. He’s been a rock for us — emotionally, ability-wise and spiritually. He’s a quality young man and he’s a playmaker.”
But it’s how he goes about making plays that amazes coaches. He’ll often spend 12 hours a week just studying film, trying to find ways to get better all while becoming a student of the game.
“I’ve always studied the game as hard as I could, so I’ve always been prepared for what’s to come,” Lewis said. “You watch film to put yourself in certain situations to see how you’ll react or to be able to better expect what’s coming. It helps you out because you’re able to play faster when you watch film.”
“He’s just a perfect example,” Spencer said. “If we could get the other kids to see him and see what’s made him a good player, we’d be in great shape. He anticipates well, but that comes from learning. ... It comes from situations and studying tape and tendencies. There’s a fine line between guessing out on the field and anticipating. Guessing will get you beat. He anticipates and that’s where Shaun’s got his advantage over the last three years.”
It’s an advantage that he’s used time and time again and it’s part of the reason he was an preseason all-Big 12 selection. No matter where the ball is, chances are Lewis will be somewhere in the vicinity.
And while he may not always get the recognition that he undoubtedly deserves, there’s little doubt just what Lewis means to the Cowboy defense.
“He’s tremendous,” Spencer said. “He and Caleb Lavey are like assistant coaches on the field. They come off the field and usually if there’s a breakdown they can tell me what it is. ... There’s no substitute for that. As great as it is this year, it will be painful without those guys next year.”
The awards and recognition may be something that Lewis will have to get used to this season, but for now he has just one award on his mind — the national championship trophy.
“At the end of the day it’s all about how you perform,” Lewis said. “They can name you to all these watch lists and all that stuff, but if you don’t do anything during the season none of that matters. I just go out there and do my job. I don’t really worry about the awards. They all come after the season, and if you do everything that you’re supposed to then your team will have more success and that’s when you’ll get that recognition.”