Keenan Lewis #21 CB
Height: 6-1 Weight: 208 Age: 31
Born: 5/17/1986 New Orleans , LA
College: Oregon State
Experience: 7th season
High School: O. Perry Walker HS [New Orleans, LA]
Selected By: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick (Overall): 32 (96)
After two seasons of battling injuries, Lewis had a healthy senior campaign, establishing himself as one of the most physical cornerbacks in the West. His work ethic and team-first attitude saw him perform at a level that has professional scouts feeling that he will quickly emerge as one of the National Football League's elite pass defenders.
Lewis not only excelled on the football field, but also received recognition for his success in the classroom, earning Academic All-Pac 10 Conference honors as a senior. That undoubtedly pleased his mother, Muriel, a teacher at Martin Behrman Elementary School.
Lewis, along with teammate Dennis Christopher, was recruited to Oregon State by former Beavers assistant and New Orleans native Charlie Camp. His family was displaced to Natchitoches for six months because of Hurricane Katrina. Their home sustained significant wind damage but fortunately did not flood in the storm, he said. Still, Lewis said he'd like nothing more than to be in a position to support his family one day.
"I definitely want to help my mom out," he said. "That would be a dream. But to have an opportunity to play for any team and just make it (in the NFL), that's what I'm trying to accomplish right now."
And while he loved his days at Oregon State, Lewis said he hopes his professional playing career will prove less geographically challenging for his family and friends. "I definitely hope that one day I'll be able to come back and play for New Orleans," said Lewis, who interviewed with Saints scouts at the NFL Combine. "I hope they bring me home."
At O. Perry Walker High School, Lewis was rated as one of the top 100 cornerback prospects in the country by Rivals.com. The first-team All-Metro and All-League choice as a senior, he made 75 tackles with four sacks and seven interceptions. He also returned five punts for 180 yards and five kickoffs for 150 yards in 2003.
His best prep game was against L.B. Landry High, when he produced 12 tackles, intercepted a pass, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble, and returned a punt 55 yards. The three-year starter registered 71 tackles with two interceptions as a junior and posted 54 tackles as a sophomore. He also graduated with academic honors, attaining a 3.27 grade point average.
"Keenan is one of those Cinderellas," said Terry Wilson, Lewis' former head coach at Walker High. "I always knew Keenan was going to be good at whatever he chose to do because he always worked hard. He's always had a strong work ethic. He was just a pleasure to coach."
Lewis decided to bypass numerous scholarship offers to enroll at Oregon State in 2004, stating that he selected the university because, "OSU is strong academically and it will allow me an opportunity to play football in the best conference." He redshirted his first season with the Beavers, but was named Freshman All-American and second-team All-Pac Ten Conference in 2005, starting all 11 games at left cornerback. He added Academic All-Pac 10 honors and posted 45 tackles (25 solos) with two stops for loss and 11 pass deflections.
The Exercise and Sport Science major was again named to the Academic All-Pac 10 squad as a sophomore. He started 13 of 14 games, manning the left cornerback position, as he broke up eight passes. He also collected 22 tackles (17 solos) with one sack and two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Lewis saw his playing time decrease by midseason after taking a helmet to his knee vs. Arizona. He would start 11 games in 2007, but had problems running because of the injury, which forced him out of the lineup for two contests. He did intercept three passes, leading the team in that category, but he had just two pass breakups and a career-low 15 tackles (12 solos).
In 2008, he achieved Academic All-Pac 10 status for the fourth time in his career. The team's active leader for starts with 48, he returned to his freshman form, delivering 35 tackles (27 solos) and a stop for a loss. He also batted down nine passes while picking off four others, including one that he returned for a touchdown.