Kentucky football’s Rahsaan Lewis, son of Ray Lewis, hoping to jump into playing time after impressive offseason

LEXINGTON, Ky. — There’s a crowd of fresh faces vying for playing time at wide receiver for Kentucky football, and Rahsaan Lewis — the son of NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis — jumped into the conversation with a couple of terrific catches during an open practice in front of fans Saturday.

He leaped and twisted his body mid-air for two long catches in 11-on-11 drills during UK Fan Day, which generated buzz among fans about the junior walk-on. His father, who was named to 13 Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls during his 17 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, also took notice of the videos, the younger Lewis said.

“Competition is how I’ve always grown up, it’s how my dad’s raised me, that mentality he has. So I love it. We’re all fighting for the same position, and whoever has it, has it,” Lewis said.

Fifth-year senior Josh Ali and star transfer Wan’Dale Robinson, who was named Mr. Football at Western Hills and earned honorable mention all-Big Ten last year at Nebraska, figure to be the team’s top receiving targets, but a slew of others are seeking the remainder of the snaps at receiver.

“He’s showing up quite a bit, which is really good,” coach Mark Stoops said of Lewis. “That’s a position that we need somebody to show up and make plays, he’s doing that, he’s been consistent.”

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The 5-foot-11 receiver played just one season of football in high school and was primarily a basketball player, averaging 18 points, five assists, four steals and six rebounds per game as a senior point guard. He was so dominant for Windermere Prep (Fla.) on the hardwood that a regional opponent played a diamond-and-one defense in an effort to slow him down.

Lewis said his vertical leap as a high school junior was an impressive 45 inches — for reference, only two players have ever jumped that high in NBA Draft combine history.

He hasn’t recently tested his vertical, so he added a caveat on the eve of his 21st birthday this week: “I’ve gained some weight, I’ve got a little older, (my) body’s not as fresh as it used to be.”

Regardless, his leaping ability has still been noticeable.

“Rahsaan’s a savvy football player who has unbelievable ball skills,” offensive coordinator Liam Cohen said. “And he has like a 40-inch vertical. He can jump through the roof.”

Lewis was also a two-way football standout during his senior year of high school and began his college career at Central Florida, playing defensive back for a season before transferring to Florida Atlantic. After coach Lane Kiffin left for Ole Miss, Lewis again transferred, this time to UK to join his older brother Rayshad, who had previously played at Utah State under Jovon Bouknight, now the Wildcats’ wide receivers coach.

“It’s been a rough college career for me, transferring a couple of times, all the injuries and everything,” Rahsaan Lewis said, “so (my goals are) mainly just doing my part, no matter what it is: catching the ball, making a block, making a play.”

Lewis was slowed by injuries in 2020, but if Saturday’s performance is any indication, he could very well see the field this season, once again wowing fans; among them may even be his father, the NFL’s all-time leading tackler, who Lewis said will attend some games this season.

“I feel that I’m just a playmaker,” Lewis said. “Whether it’s a deep ball, I’m gonna go make a play. Whether you give me the ball on a screen or something short, I’m always trying to make a play.”

Hayes Gardner can be reached at hgardner@gannett.com; Twitter: @HayesGardner.

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