Dr. Donald Hill-Eley made sure he found Jordan Lewis after the game. The Alabama State coach and his team had just suffered a heart-breaking season-opening loss to Southern on Feb. 26, and Lewis was a big reason why.
Hill-Eley watched Lewis wreak havoc against his offense all night, but he had something he wanted to say to him.
He’s not just a good athlete. He’s a good sportsman. I told him that as he was coming off the field,” Hill-Eley told the media on Monday. “You can play this game and still have great sportsmanship, and he exemplified that. It was great to see that in a student-athlete.”
It was high-praise from an opposing coach, one who also called him “disruptive” and “a grown man.”
Lewis was all over the field for Southern in its 24-21 win. He forced a fumble at the 14-yard line of the game’s opening drive that was recovered by Southern setting up first and goal.
It was just the beginning of sorrows for the Hornets. Lewis had a career-high 11 tackles highlighted by eight solo stops and four sacks against the Hornets. He also had five tackles for loss for a total 23 yards en route to being named the SWAC Defensive Player of The Year.
Hill-Eley had done his homework on the undersized defensive end, and he knew that his offense was probably in for a long night.
“You’re talking about a state-champion hurdler that’s up front, even though he’s 190…200 pounds…you’re talking about a kid, that his get-off is unbelievable.”
It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. ASU came in the game with two young offensive tackles, and it did everything it could to help them maintain the force of the raging Jag.
“We tried different things of chippin’ him, slowing him down. And some of the stuff was successful, but the kid’s a great athlete,” Hill-Ely said. “When we start chippin’ him, he started spinning inside and still making plays, getting pressure. He was disruptive, no question about it.”
Southern University coach Dawson Odums praised his standout edge player for improving his football IQ since the end of the 2019 season.
“He understands what guys are trying to do him, and understands that a lot better,” he said. “He understands how they’re trying to blocking him. He’s got a good idea of what guys are doing, what his position is, and what moves work vs. what moves won’t work.”
Odums also acknowledged that his athletic ability was potentially game-changing.
“If you blink, you’re gonna miss,” he said. “He’s fast. And I don’t think people realize how fast he is until he gets in the game. And that first step is by you. He can do it.”
The good news for Donald Hill-Eley, Jordan Lewis is Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s problem.