In the semifinals of the Class 4A high school football playoffs in Louisiana in 2019, Ronald “Champ” Lewis was called upon to step up.
Although Lewis was just a sophomore, the coaches at Warren Easton High School needed him to step in at cornerback in the fourth quarter of a game that went down to the wire.
“One of our guys got ejected from the game and (the coach) just threw me in there,” Lewis said. “I got a chance to take a stand. I stood on all 10 toes and made plays. That’s when I realized that football could really take me somewhere. I helped my team get to a state championship (game).”
Lewis has carried that confidence into becoming a future Colorado Buffalo. On Monday, Lewis gave his verbal commitment to CU for the class of 2022.
“It’s basically like a dream come true to say I’m committed, so I’m excited,” said Lewis, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound defensive back.
Also on the field that day in 2019 for Warren Easton was running back Ashaad Clayton, who ran for 283 yards and four touchdowns in a 64-55 win against Lakeshore High School. Now a freshman running back at CU, Clayton opened Lewis’ eyes to CU.
“Colorado came in the picture for me when … Ashaad Clayton committed there and signed there my sophomore year; his senior year,” Lewis said. “That’s when I first noticed a lot about Colorado and keeping up with him. It’s just ironic that Colorado was one of my first Power 5 offers.”
Lewis now has 18 total scholarship offers, including from Oregon State, Kansas, Purdue, Virginia and Memphis.
CU has stood out, however, and Clayton has played a role in that.
“Ever since I got the Colorado offer, me and Ashaad have been in touch a lot,” Lewis said. “I’ve been asking him a lot of questions about their program, he’s been telling me a lot about their program and just the life in Boulder.”
Lewis was one of nine recruits on CU’s campus last week for an official visit – the first weekend in more than 14 months that official visits have been allowed by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clayton was Lewis’ player host.
“With him being my player host, it made me more comfortable,” Lewis said. “I got a chance to see his apartment and meet some of his teammates.”
Clayton had some trouble adjusting to life in Boulder this past year, but Lewis said having Clayton at CU will help him.
“That came into play on my visit, just being with him,” Lewis said. “Spending time with him made me more comfortable.
“He told me that he had to do some adjusting and it all worked out for him. He’s happy up there.”
Lewis believes he can be happy in Boulder, too, and is excited to see what he can do as he progresses in his career.
As a freshman and sophomore at Easton, Lewis said he wasn’t focused and, “I had to realize that football is really what I want to do. I had to get locked in and it turned out good for me.”
He also made a switch from cornerback to safety last year as a junior and he excelled. Lewis said CU safeties coach Brett Maxie likes Lewis’ versatility.
“He thinks I’ll be able to play any position in the secondary, whether it’s corner, safety or even nickel,” Lewis said.
After gaining confidence in the playoffs as a sophomore and making the choice to take the game seriously this past year, Lewis said he’s proud of himself for the steps he has taken to this point.
But, now that Lewis is committed to CU, his immediate focus is on leading Easton to an elusive state title. The Eagles lost the state title game in Lewis’ freshman and sophomore years and got knocked out in the semifinals this past season. Four years in a row, Easton’s season has ended with a loss to Edna Karr High School.
Easton has been to at least the semifinals seven straight years, but is still seeking its first state title since 1942.
“Our main goal is to win the state championship,” Lewis said. “That’s my focus after saying that I’m committed (to CU).”