One of the biggest hitters in Oklahoma's storied football history, Ronnell Lewis always felt his best position was linebacker.
Known by his nickname, “The Hammer,” Lewis will have the opportunity to return to his favorite spot after the Detroit Lions selected him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday with the 125th overall selection.
“I like standing up, being more aware of how a play is developing,” Lewis said. “I can play both. But I'm more comfortable (at linebacker) than having my hand in the dirt. I can't tell you how excited I am.”
The Lions are expected to play Lewis at outside linebacker, although there's some debate Lewis might be more productive as an undersized (6-foot-2, 253 pounds) defensive end.
What's not up for debate is the former eight-man star from Dewar's raw talent. He ran a 4.66 at the NFL Combine, posted a 31-inch vertical leap and recorded 36 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
The challenge for Lewis is relearning the linebacker position after playing defensive end the past two seasons.
His freshman season, he was a backup linebacker. That was the year he became a fan favorite, when he routinely delivered smashing hits on kickoff coverage.
But OU coaches felt Lewis fit best in their scheme at defensive end. They experimented the following spring and permanently moved him during two-a-days.
Lewis was productive. He started four games his sophomore season, nine his junior year before a sprained knee and academic issues ended his career early, forcing him to miss the Insight Bowl.
“Learning the playbook might be a little bit of a challenge, but I'll work at it,” Lewis said. “I feel I can pick it up quickly. It's where I prefer. I've played it before. Playing physical comes natural for me. Without having to worry about school, I can focus on what I need to do.”
School was a challenge for Lewis. It was a hot topic during two-a-days. For more than a month, there were questions whether Lewis would be academically eligible.