If Jourdan Lewis ever had a doubt, he didn’t show it. Asked on Tuesday if he's ever thought about leaving college early for the NFL Draft, Michigan’s star junior cornerback left no question that he would be back for his senior season.
“I always thought I wanted my degree,” Lewis said. “No matter what happens, that was always the plan. No matter if I was one of the top guys in the draft or not.
“Football’s not going to last forever. My education will, so I thought that’s the best move for me.”
It was a sentiment Lewis had shared before. Back on Oct. 29, in the middle of one the finest seasons by a defensive back in recent Michigan history, Lewis tweeted, “I came to Michigan to get my education, not to leave in three years.”
That tweet, born out of a groundswell of curiosity about his future plans, was meant to quell the pressure. But in reality, it just shifted the questions.
“Now it’s more like, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ ” Lewis said.
So, Lewis stood in Schembechler Hall on Tuesday, resolved in his decision to return, repeating his reasoning to all who asked.
Eventually, after saying it just about every other way possible, he put it in the simplest terms possible.
“I can tell you, I’m 100 percent coming back,” he said.
Lewis cited his aspirations beyond football as justification for staying in school, mentioning his interest in working in advertising or marketing someday.
Staying in college one more year will also give him marketable skills to add to his athletic resume.
Lewis set a school record with 21 pass breakups this season, breaking a record previously shared by Marlin Jackson and Leon Hall, who had 18 each. By staying for his senior season, he has the potential to break Hall’s career record of 43 with 13 more pass breakups between Michigan’s bowl game and the 2016 season.
He has been named an All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, USA Today and Sports Illustrated, and will be seen as an anchor next year for a Michigan team that returns enough talent to contend for a Big Ten Championship.
When asked about his successes, Lewis acknowledged his special season, but was quick to deflect credit.
“It’s a childhood dream, you know, just being honored as one of the best college players in America right now,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be anywhere without my D-line, honestly. Them bringing pressure, making my job easier, it’s a testament to (those) guys.”
Still, it’s hard to deny Lewis was among the best defensive backs in the nation last season, and he will likely take those skills to the NFL someday. But he won’t be doing so without a degree, and he won’t be doing so until after next year.