College football is filled with stories of coaches and players doing the wrong thing.
Former Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Woody Hayes punched a Clemson Tigers player during a game. A Vanderbilt player allowed three teammates to rape his girlfriend. Percy Harvin choked an assistant coach while at Florida and head coach Urban Meyer ignored it. The list goes on and on.
Last season, however, there was one moment that typified everything right with college athletics. Late in the first quarter of the Miami Hurricanes game versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, wide receiver Malcolm Lewis caught a past for a first down at the four yard line putting Miami in excellent position to score. As he was tackled, his ankle was twisted so grotesquely that replays of the injury made even the strongest stomachs queasy.
One of the first people off the sideline to check on Lewis as he writhed in pain was head coach Al Golden.
Golden got down and hugged Lewis, consoling him and keeping him calm as he was being treated by trainers. The image of Golden on his hands and knees comforting the injured Lewis is now iconic.
Lewis suffered a dislocated ankle that ended his season and put his career in jeopardy. Prior to that he was arguably the most impressive freshman on the young Canes team. He was quickly becoming quarterback Stephen Morris’ favorite target. He was also becoming a team leader, buying into Al Golden’s philosophy completely and following the coach’s lead.
During spring practice, he was held out of contact and full speed drills. He clearly didn’t look like the same player, and many questioned if he would ever be again.
As the season approaches, Lewis is fully cleared for contact and is several weeks ahead of schedule in his recovery.
Lewis is currently listed as a backup, however, as the season progresses and he feels more comfortable on his once-injured ankle, he could absolutely explode this season. He has all the tools a young receiver needs. If the ankle holds up, he could again become Morris’ favorite target.
If he does, he could become the feel-good story of the 2013 college football season, just as he was a part of the feel-good moment of the 2012 season.