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Leo Lewis is set to make a big leap

Even after a stellar campaign in 2017, expectations and distractions continue to surround former Brookhaven High School star Leo Lewis.

Lewis shined in his freshman year at middle linebacker for the Bulldogs with 79 total tackles in 2016, including 4.5 tackles for a loss. Returning to Starkville as only a sophomore, the workload for Lewis will surely increase and his role on an improving Bulldog defense will receive a significant boost.

But even after the successful first year on campus, distractions came.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the NCAA granted immunity to players, including Lewis, in exchange for players to come forward about their recruitment involving Ole Miss.

The Rebels face 21 allegations from the NCAA regarding their football program.

Lewis’ name has been floating around with the Ole Miss investigation ever since his recruitment started. Lewis’ name has helped drive up the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State to new levels.

That hasn’t bothered Lewis one bit and the rising sophomore is poised to make an even bigger leap come the 2017 football season.

Lewis has an opportunity to cancel all the surrounding noise and become one of the premier defensive players in the SEC come 2017.

With his play at middle linebacker, Lewis was given All-SEC Freshman honors for the 2016 football season.

Lewis will have a tall task at hand this season in replacing senior captain and linebacker Richie Brown in the middle of the defense. Brown led the Bulldogs with 102 total tackles, including 51 solo tackles and four tackles for a loss.

Lewis’ 79 tackles were the most in the SEC by a freshman and the number will surely grow as the middle linebacker for the Bulldogs.

The hiring of new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will help the Mississippi State defense get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks like he has done in the past with Louisville and Georgia.

The Grantham hire will only help Lewis as a linebacker with getting more tackles and being more of a focal point of the defense.

During spring practices, Grantham has moved the former Brookhaven star at both middle and outside linebacker positions.

Becoming more versatile at the linebacker position has been the driving point for Lewis in spring practices and has helped him become a more complete player.

Lewis has the potential to be one of the best defensive players in the conference with the opportunities that he has been given.

Even though he’s said he’s not worried about the distractions, that should only fuel the Brookhaven native to make him even better come the start of the 2017 football season.