Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting , with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss LSU’s newest commit, Damien Lewis, a junior college offensive lineman who popped to the Tigers on the final day of his official visit.
Damien Lewis found a home at LSU
Damien Lewis has always known what he’s wanted in a college: To play at the Power 5 level, preferable in the SEC, and to finally be somewhere that felt like home.
On his second official visit, the 3-star junior college offensive lineman finally found both.
Lewis, one of two junior college offensive linemen that officially visited LSU this past weekend for the Texas A&M game, popped to Ed Orgeron and the Tigers on Day 3 of his second official visit. The Mississippi native saw an opportunity for playing time in an environment he had long coveted and was quick to give a commitment and shut down his recruiting process.
“It felt like home … like real home,” Lewis told SEC Country. “My mom, she said, ‘This is right.’ It felt like home, like it was the right decision that I had to make. I fit in with the coaches, with the players. I like the coaches and we fell in love.
“That’s the environment where I can fit in and I can get on the field early and I can relate to the coaches. Everything was great. Everything went well. I’ve always wanted to play in the Power 5 like LSU, so it fit. At LSU, they treated me like family.”
The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Lewis became the third offensive lineman in LSU’s 2018 recruiting class and the second prospect from the junior college ranks. The addition of the Northwest Mississippi Community College product puts the class at 19 commitments before the early signing period.
Coming out of Canton (Miss.) High School, Lewis held offers from Texas State and Southern Miss. The notion of playing inside of Tiger Stadium seemed far-fetched — that is, until now.
“I never …,” Lewis began. “I knew I had what it takes to play for an SEC school and to play SEC ball, but they overlooked me. Now, after coming here to Northwest, I opened myself up and they are the real heroes to me.”
The next time Lewis suits up, it will be in Death Valley, an idea that the big-bodied offensive lineman is still trying to wrap his head around.
Lewis made an official visit to South Carolina over the summer and was at West Virginia a week ago. His first time stepping foot in Tiger Stadium, however, left a mark like no other venue in the country did.
“The environment, the people and being around them during the game,” Lewis began. “The people in the crowd stuck with the team throughout. They can help the team win games and they help in the game. LSU outmuscled Texas A&M and the crowd loved it. The crowd sticks with the team and you can’t stop a two-headed monster.”
“I have respect for all programs,” he added, “but there’s something about an SEC game. LSU is a dream school for me because of that.”
At the junior college level, Lewis pulled in offers from South Carolina, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Colorado and West Virginia, among several others. LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes extended an offer late — in mid-October — amid the team’s early season struggles in the trenches.
Grimes made his way to Mississippi to watch Lewis in-person, which eventually led to an official visit this past weekend and a quick end to his recruitment.
“I had been knowing Coach Grimes because my Northwest coaches and him talk,” Lewis explained. “He came through, watched my film, came down to see me and offered me. We’ve got a good relationship. … He thinks I can come in and be an impact player for the team. At guard, I can come in and fight for a starting spot. I look at it like I need to come in and compete. I’m comfortable trying to help out.”
Lewis made the decision to commit to Grimes and Orgeron during the early part of Sunday while meeting with the coaches. Why then?
Orgeron made a lasting impression on the No. 4-ranked junior college guard because of his appreciation for linemen. Of course, Orgeron is a former defensive line coach that is attempting to rebuild LSU from the inside out — and that means bolstering both lines first.
As an offensive lineman, Lewis had a deeper appreciation for Orgeron’s vision for the Tigers.
“He was very excited when I told him. He blew up,” Lewis laughed. “He turned green he was so happy. He gave me a big hug. He told me that it takes the guys up front to win the war — on both sides — so it was a big role for the big guys. That’s where it starts, at offensive and defensive line. They never get credit; all the credit goes to the skill players. Coach O sticks with the big men. He loves big men.”
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