STILLWATER — Shaun Lewis never received an invitation to the NFL Combine.
Still, he remained locked into the event, watching all he could, either live or recorded, focusing naturally on a certain group: his position, the linebackers.
“Watching the competition,” Lewis said. “Really, when you get overlooked, you kind of sit back and take notes about what the other guys had that you don’t have. I really looked at that a lot. Watching that helped fuel some of my workouts.”
As Lewis watched, he felt more and more that his skills matched what he was seeing.
“And actually I played with some of those guys, so you already know that,” Lewis said. “But at the end of the day, I just have to go out and control what I can control. It mostly influenced my effort and my tenacity that I worked out with.”
Lewis so far hasn’t garnered much love from NFL talent evaluators, ranking well down the list of available outside linebackers. Yet there’s still opportunity to make an impression, most notably Thursday, when Oklahoma State holds its Pro Day, beginning with work in the weight room before moving to the indoor facility.
As many as 30 former Cowboys are expected to participate in the workout; a large number that’s the byproduct of OSU’s 28-man senior class and Josh Stewart’s early exit as a junior. Stewart and Justin Gilbert were the only Cowboys asked to Indianapolis.
For the others who were not extended a Combine invite, including Lewis, it’s a big day, with football futures hanging in the balance.
“It means a lot,” Lewis said. “It gives me a chance to showcase my ability and my ability to move around and how athletic I am and how I compete out there. It means a ton.
“I’ve been counting down the hours and minutes until it’s here.”
Lewis made his mark on the Cowboys, playing in 53 games during a career as a four-year starter. He totaled 250 tackles and made a reputation as a leader and playmaker, compiling eight interceptions and seven fumble recoveries, while forcing seven more fumbles.
As a senior, Lewis was voted First-Team All-Big 12 by the league’s coaches.
Still, making it in the NFL is altogether different.
“It’s difficult to predict,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “You just hope the areas that the areas they provide for the NFL that we’ve instilled in them – their accountability, their discipline, their structure – if all that’s successful that means we’ve been good here. Then talent has to take over.”
Since OSU’s season ended, Lewis has stayed and worked out in Stillwater under strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass. He said a regimen of running, lifting and doing stadium steps has him ready for the audition, which he likened to attending camps as a high school prospect.
“It’s just on more of a glorified stage,” Lewis said. “At the end of the day, it’s football. It’s football related drills and it’s training. A lot of people try to make it more than it is, but it’s what I do every day.”
So it comes down to this day.
A big day.
The biggest for Lewis since…
“We had this thing during the season that the next game is the biggest game,” Lewis said. “The next few minutes for me is the biggest event for me in my life. This is the biggest thing so far. That’s how big it is.”