By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes have a long tradition of homegrown talent showcasing itself on the football field.
Canes legends like Michael Irvin, Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, Santana Moss and Bennie Blades are just a handful of South Florida natives who shined while donning Miami’s orange and green.
Over the course of the 2013 football season, HurricaneSports.com will honor a Hurricane football player with South Florida ties as the Milam’s Market Homegrown Athlete of the Week. This week’s player spotlight is Miramar, Fla., native Malcolm Lewis.
Every great athlete has to overcome adversity at some point in their career.
Some, like Michael Jordan, were cut from the team at a young age, but persevered and reached their full potential.
Others, like former Canes standout running back Frank Gore, battled back from injuries to return to greatness.
While these talented individuals have all faced different forms of adversity, they all had the drive and determination to get past whatever difficulty was presented to them and reach the peak of their respective sport.
Malcolm Lewis hopes to join that elite group of athletes and the Miramar, Fla., native is already on his way towards making that dream a reality.
Lewis, who hails from Miramar High School, made an impact from the moment he set foot on the University of Miami campus a year ago.
The receiver with a knack for making big plays did just that in his first collegiate game at Boston College, catching four passes for a season-high 42 yards and the first touchdown of his Hurricanes career.
Lewis’ impressive play early on earned him a start against Bethune-Cookman, the first of his collegiate career.
But everything changed for Lewis in Miami’s Week 4 matchup at Georgia Tech. The standout freshman’s season came to an end against the Yellow Jackets when he suffered a dislocated left ankle injury.
“I remember Coach Golden leaning over me and holding me down tight,” Lewis said. “I really couldn’t see my ankle.”
Lewis, who seemed destined for stardom early in his freshman year, had his 2012 season cut short by a gruesome injury. But Lewis is not the type of person to let adversity prevent him from achieving his goals.
The Miramar native who worked so hard to make an impact as a freshman, diverted all of his focus and energy towards his rehab to make sure he would be ready to play as a sophomore.
Lewis made a triumphant return to action in Miami’s spring game, catching a touchdown pass from Stephen Morris. The entire Hurricanes team surrounded him to celebrate the score and congratulate Lewis on his speedy recovery.
While the play in the spring game showed progress, his first true test came August 3 when Miami opened football camp. Lewis was making cuts and running full speed, looking like the player who shined in four games as a freshman a year ago.
Following that first day of football camp, Lewis reflected on what it was like to overcome such a tough injury. The sophomore wideout knows he put forth a lot of effort to get back on the field, but he also knows he could not have done it without the incredible support system that surrounds him at Miami.
“The way my team supported me when I was down on the field showed how much our team cares for each other,” Lewis said. “We love each other like brothers. Throughout the whole process, they’ve been there for me to push me through rehab. I want to thank the trainers, too, for helping me through the process.”
Lewis’ hard work and dedication have helped him return to game action less than a year after he suffered his serious injury. The second-year player collected his first official post-injury catch in Miami’s victory over Savannah State.
The nine-yard gain not only helped the Canes earn another win. It also served as proof that Lewis had overcome the adversity he faced a year ago and was on track towards returning to the top of his game.