Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops made a rather surprising admission Monday.
He thinks his star junior defensive end/outside linebacker Ronnell Lewis should leave school early and head to the NFL.
Stoops, speaking to the media for the first time since the Sooners lost to Oklahoma State on December 3, said that Lewis had been academically disqualified from playing in the Sooners' upcoming Insight Bowl against Iowa and that he fully expected Lewis to go pro.
According to The Oklahomans' Travis Haney (who provides a video of the press conference with his story) Stoops said:
“We've talked, and I feel it's in his best interest to go on to the NFL. It hasn't been formalized yet, but we expect that to happen. And I'm all for it. He needs to do that. We're hopeful that will all go the right way.”
The 6-2, 244 pound Lewis recorded 59 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2011 mainly as a defensive end. He was also dropped back into coverage as a linebacker, on occasion and was a consistent standout on special teams, as well. Lewis, in fact, first caught the eye of many scouts when he tied for the team lead in special teams tackles (11) as a true freshman in 2009.
Despite his obvious athletic talents, all has not gone the "right way" for Lewis throughout his Oklahoma career. Signed as a highly touted prep prospect despite playing eight-man football in high school, Lewis has consistently flashed but wasn't able to emerge as even a full-time starter for the Sooners until this past season. In fact, Lewis had started just five games total before his breakout junior campaign.
Lewis is currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 6 outside linebacker prospect potentially available in 2012 and a second round value.
While certainly raw, with a relatively weak class of traditional outside linebacker prospects from the class of 2012, Lewis could move quickly up the draft board -- especially if he works out as well as expected. Some believe Lewis could run in the mid 4.5s to low 4.6s for the clock. Should he do so, a move into the first round is certainly possible.