Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.
College: University of Illinois
Height, weight, class, position: 6-6, 315 pounds, senior, offensive line
High School: East Stroudsburg South, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
About Corey Lewis: Came back from three ACL injuries, five surgeries and more than two years away from football to play the final four Fighting Illini games in 2012. Played 25 snaps against Ohio State on November 3, 2012 for his first game action since 2009. The second President of the Illinois Uplifting Athletes chapter, Lewis was a Pennsylvania All-State first-team selection as high school senior. He saw nearly 100 plays of action as a true freshman in 2008 and played in all 12 games as a sophomore in 2009 and earned Academic All Big-Ten honors. Lewis missed the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons with ACL injuries and was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA. A starter on the offensive line for an Illinois team that is one of the surprising Big Ten teams in 2013, Lewis is viewed as the No. 39 NFL offensive tackle prospect in the country.
As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?
Lewis: The traditional “Illini Walk” That takes place before every home game where our Band, cheerleaders, Family, Friends and fans line up to greet us and wish us well before entering the stadium to prepare for the upcoming game.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
Lewis: My most memorable experience was returning to the field against Ohio State during last season after being sidelined by Injuries (3 ACL surgeries) for the past two-and-a-half years.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?
Lewis: I have always been one who enjoys any opportunity that deals with giving back and/or community service. Watching closely Zak Pedersen organize the Illinois chapter for Uplifting Athletes and seeing how much fun he had during his experience as the President led me to wanting to be more involved. Ironically, when Zak’s time as a student athlete was coming to an end he asked me if I wanted to take over as president for the Illinois chapter of Uplifting Athletes, and for me it was a no brainer! After taking over as president, my experience really opened my eyes to a lot. It was my first time putting events together and dealing with fundraising, so although at times it could be stressful I had a lot of fun with it and it was a great learning tool. My experience also opened my eyes to how many people suffer from rare disease in this world, and I was very glad to be apart of something that was willing to help those people.
What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?
Lewis: Ohio State is the toughest team that I have played year in and year out because they typically generate great teams with a lot of talent on a yearly basis. I believe their coaching staffs have always done a great job of recruiting and getting those recruits to reach their full potential, and that’s why they have always been such a difficult team during my time at Illinois. There are other great programs that come to mind as well, but Ohio State just happens to be the one that sticks out the most.
What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?
Lewis: I earned my bachelors degree in communications and I am currently finishing up my Masters degree in sports administration. My degree in communications prepared me well for preparing events and communicating with all the different people I needed to communicate with in order to have the events go well, as well as the fundraising.
In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?
Lewis: I am looking for the opportunity to work in an athletic department and work my way towards being an athletic director for a Division I college one day. I also am looking for the opportunity to stay involved with community service and giving back.
Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?
Lewis: I enjoy watching Chris Borland play linebacker for Wisconsin. Many people tag him as undersized, but when playing against him he quickly puts all those talks to rest and he gives everything he has on every play. He is always flying around and playing with a lot of passion in every game. So it’s fun to watch.
Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
Lewis: My favorite NFL player is the left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Eugene Monroe. He has always been a great mentor of mine and I have enjoyed watching him play since his high school days. As an offensive Tackle myself, it is fun to watch him play and watch him shut down some of the best defensive lineman in the game.
What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?
Lewis: One of our former teammates, offensive lineman Andrew Carter, was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma a couple of years back and he lost his football career due to that. Ever since we as a team always wanted to do something to honor him and create awareness for this rare disease, so that was our biggest inspiration for the rare disease my Uplifting Athletes chapter chose.
What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?
Lewis: Penn State’s Beaver Stadium because it is close to home and It’s the only game all my family and friends get to come to. It is also one of the greatest stadiums to play in because the fans love their Nittany Lions and truly make it a tough place to play. But I enjoy playing in front of those tough crowds and Penn State definitely has one of the toughest crowds if not the toughest In the Big Ten.