Football’s Lewis returns to running back

Deantre Lewis is on the move, again.

The redshirt sophomore returned to running back Tuesday, and he’ll remain at the position for the rest of the season.

“We tried to move him over to DB (defensive back) and I think it’s been tough from a learning standpoint for him,” coach Todd Graham said. “He was kind of excited about it for a couple weeks and got confused and hit a wall.”

Lewis said that he was excited to go back to playing his natural position.

“I feel more comfortable back there (at running back) taking my steps and being able to start reading again,” Lewis added. “It’s something that I love to do.

Lewis has had an atypical career at ASU.

“Freshman running back who lived up to the hype” is how the ASU Athletics website described Lewis’s first year as a Sun Devil, but it’s hardly reflective by his recent productivity.

He had 539 rushing yards, 370 receiving and six total touchdowns during his freshman season. His road toward becoming an ASU star took an unexpected turn when he was shot and missed all of last season.

Lewis returned this season to a crowded backfield. Senior running back Cameron Marshall, junior running back Marion Grice and freshman running back D.J. Foster have split the reps at the position. Lewis was left out the picture. He has just four carries for 12 yards this season.

Graham moved Lewis to defensive back to create depth and get his best players on the field. Lewis collected four tackles in five games, but he has not played in ASU’s last three games. Lewis was not on the travel roster against USC last weekend.

“We’re trying to create depth somehow, someway, but it seldom works out,” Graham said. “Deantre helped us out some in nickel-and-dime (packages). I think he wasn’t able to progress. It’s hard to learn with lots of stuff like that to be able to get in there.

“We felt other guys were better prepared to do it so we wouldn’t play him. If he’s not going to play, we’d rather to him back over there and give us some depth at running back.”

Lewis said he felt a step behind during practice because he hasn’t been with the offense in nine weeks.

“That’s something I’ve got to study and work on, work on real hard,” Lewis said. “There’s just a lot of plays I need to study and get better at.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell said it was good to have Lewis back on offense.

“Obviously, we’ve got some good backs and getting Deantre back over there and getting him working and back in the swing of the things,” Norvell said. “Whether that shows up in the next few weeks, I’m not sure, but definitely he’s a guy that’s got great talent and can help this program and this team.

As much as Lewis’ playing time remains a mystery, so does his position for next season. Lewis said he doesn’t know where he’ll play when spring practice rolls around. He said he needed more time at defensive back to excel at the position, and playing defense in the spring is a possibility.

“As of right now, I don’t know,” Lewis said. “In the offseason, I’ll tell before spring ball to see where we’re going with it.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu