"I love being back here with my team because I have been away from them for so long, from the beginning of June” said Lewis following Thursday’s practice, “being able to come out here and hang with them, and crack jokes with each other.”
The running back said that physically he believes he’s close to resuming a normal practice routine.
“I feel like 85, 90 percent (healthy),” Lewis stated. “The 10 percent is my stamina right now. That’s the only thing I feel that I’m missing. Other than that, we’ll just take it day by day and I’ll be back very soon.
“I just need to get through conditioning. The trainers are doing what they’re doing, so they’re taking it as a slow process. I say by Thursday of next week I should be in full pads.”
Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson said that Lewis underwent a physical exam which allowed him to conditioning work during Thursday’s practice. However, a strength test and other examinations will be needed before he can increase his workout load.
“He’s running and we will see where he’s at,” Erickson said. “Our doctors are looking at him and that’s all I can tell you. He has a chance to play and we’ll see how he progresses.
“But he’s here and in good spirits, feels good and we’ll see what the doctors have to say.”
Lewis spent most of his summer back home in Norco, Calif. and indicated that during that time he underwent an intense rehab process six days a week.
“The only day I had a break was Sunday and that’s God’s day,” he said with a smile. “That was day to pray for my comeback. It felt like I healed pretty fast, knowing I got shot.”
Deantre Lewis was at a relative's house in Riverside, Calif. on February 12th of this year, when he was shot in his buttocks by a stray bullet. Naturally, being a shooting victim taxes one mentally, as much as it does physically. The running back acknowledged that his mind was quicker to heal than his body.
“I went through a lot with that,” Lewis said of his mental state. “My mind is like this is the year I want to take off, but then again I strive to be out here with my team. They want me back here, I want to be back here. I just want to be part of the team this year.”
The sophomore feels that his body’s strength and mobility took a while to get back to their normal level, but that it’s no longer an issue.
“My muscles were not reacting to what I wanted to do but everything is fine now,” Lewis remarked. “It’s just the regular conditioning that I just got to get over with.”
Lewis admitted that even as late as last month, he had his doubts whether he could come back and play in the 2011 season.
“It was getting over that last hump and getting my speed back,” Lewis explained. “People kept telling me it was going to take hard work and it was going to be the hardest thing I ever did in my life. I believed them.
“I somehow fought through it and every time I went to sleep I prayed that I would be better the next day and come back stronger than I was before.”
Lewis said that the whole experience psychologically has been “hell” and he never thought that he would have to train his body all over again to do things he was always accustomed to doing. Nonetheless, this process did carry some benefit.
“It’s always been given to me,” Lewis admitted. “But this makes me mentally stronger. Everybody said I had all the talent in the world, but the only thing I felt I was missing was the mental part of my talent.”
Lewis was one of the standout offensive players last year for the Sun Devils. He bursted on the scene as a true freshman and rushed for 539 yards and four touchdowns, as well as catching 23 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns.
The running back thinks that returning in time for ASU’s season opener on Sep. 1st may be too early for him and his recovery schedule, but he is confident that he will see the field this fall.
“I don’t plan on redshirting this season,” Lewis said.