How many times did you hear the name "Patrick Lewis" mentioned on TV this year? Probably very, very few, even if you were paying close attention. For an offensive lineman, particularly a center, this is a very good sign.
As our own ColoradoAg wrote a few weeks ago, Offensive Linemen are Different. They really are. Their worth is immeasurable by standard numbers. They don't have stats that flash on TV. But without them, no one would have any stats at all.
Patrick Lewis was the most important offensive player on the 2013 Aggie football team. Yes, we had a Heisman winner at QB, a thousand-yard receiver, and a load of playmakers. But Lewis made the plays happen. He made the offensive line calls that allowed Joeckel and Matthews to showcase their outstanding skills. And he showed plenty of skill himself, repeatedly getting to the next level and taking out linebackers to spring Johnny on designed runs and scrambles alike. I think it was the Mississippi State game where I first noticed this, and that was when I started regretting that this was his last year.
A highly-touted center in high school, Lewis was another of Mike Sherman's early Louisiana commits. He stepped in immediately as a freshman and showcased his versatility by playing guard, and started the final 48 games of his Aggie career. He moved back to center as a junior, and in 26 games as the starting center, he never had a bad snap. Not one. And he did it under two different head coaches and two different offensive systems.
On the outside, Sumlin's system is not drastically different from Sherman's. It's not like we went from triple-option to run-and-shoot. But on the offensive line, there are many more nuances. Blocking schemes can differ far more than offensive stats can reflect. It's a testament to Lewis' intelligence and ability that he was able to not only transition smoothly, but excel at it, especially with a brand-new quarterback thrown into the bargain.
Spring Drills 2012. Lewis initially struggled with the new system when Sumlin first implemented it, but once he picked it up, they immediately started clicking, and he earned the praise of coaches and teammates alike. His grasp of the need for getting to the line and identifying the defensive lineup as rapidly as possible was key in setting the tone for the 2012 season.
It is fitting that the key component of the best offense in SEC history, with a showy superstar Heisman winner at QB and an Outland Trophy winner at tackle, is the quiet, steady man in the middle. And that's probably the way he'd want it. Congrats to Patrick Lewis, one of the best offensive linemen to ever put on the maroon and white. We wish you all the best at the next level.