It had to be a bittersweet feeling for No.17 Pittsburgh’s Freshman RB Dion Lewis—who needed just 46 yards to break Pitt’s all time freshmen rushing record, set by Hall of Fame RB Tony Dorsett in 1973—when he tried to extend the football across the plane of the end zone, only to have the ball knocked away, through the end zone for a UNC touch back.
That 24 yard carry gave him the freshman record but the fumble gave the football and momentum back to the Tar Heels.
It was the second blunder in as many drives for the Panthers as Sr. TE Dorin Dickerson dropped an uncontested pass in the end zone that eventually forced Pitt to attempt a 40 yard FG that sailed wide right.
Later in the 3rd Quarter Lewis claimed another of Dorsett’s rookie records—as he eclipsed 100 yards for the 10th time this season—only to fumble for the second time ending another scoring opportunity for the Panthers.
After the game Lewis lamented the butter fingers and noted that he can’t afford to give up the ball, particularly in those situations.
Nonetheless, Dion Lewis—who finished the year with 1845 yards rushing—is clearly on of the best returning backs in the country next year.
When asked if he was ready to make a statement for his Heisman candidacy—the unimposing, 5’8”195lb, freshmen—humbly rejected the notion and said that he just had to work on his weaknesses; get bigger, faster and stronger and try to do the right things.
In deed the record breaking year for Lewis shows that he has a ton of potential but the mistakes he made and his small stature prove that he has room to grow.
Head Coach Dave Wannstedt quipped that Lewis would do the work and he would not let the success go to his head because “he is just that kind of young man”.
Dion Lewis was Pitt’s best kept secret early in the year but Butch Davis’—who compared him to Clinton Portis—and other coaches are now paying close attention.
I suspect we will all be as he now takes the way too early lead in the 2010 Heisman race.