Ray Lewis III begins UM career in shadow of father’s legacy

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — While Ray Lewis enjoys the early days of retirement and awaits enshrinement at Canton, his son embarks on a career at “The U.”

Ray Lewis III, a University of Miami freshman, was hit by his dad’s stature at the school as soon as he walked into the Hurricanes’ locker room.

“Looking at a quote from your father on the wall, it definitely takes a toll on you, but more in a positive way in actually giving you motivation to work harder,” Lewis said Friday, at the team’s media luncheon. “One day, I’d like to be on that wall.”

The quote? “Effort is between you and you.”

“We get that around the house all the time,” Lewis III said with a smile. “All the time.”

Ray Lewis played at Miami from 1993-95 before becoming the inspirational leader of the two-time Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. He played a significant role in forming the aura surrounding “The U.”

“I wouldn’t call it ‘famous,’ I mean, I do get a lot of attention just because of what my dad did, but if I let that get to me, I don’t feel like I’m being fair to (my teammates) right now,” sad Lewis, whose mom also attended the school.

“When I came in, the No. 1 thing I tried not to do is expect anything. I wanted to just come in, work hard every day in practice, work hard every day in 7-on-7s and whatever happens, happens.”

Lewis said he expected his recently retired dad to be a presence around the program, “now that he has time off.” The former middle linebacker attended some 7-on-7 drills during the summer.

“It won’t be harassment or anything like that, he’s definitely going to stay back and give me my space,” Lewis said, “but he’ll give me pointers.”

Lewis III said a recent walk to his dorm stimulated memories of campus visits as a youngster.

“I remember coming here with my brothers, coming here with mom and she would show me the dorm they were in and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “And now I’m actually there.”

The younger Lewis was a three-star high school running back at Lake Mary Prep in Longwood, Fla. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, he’s being converted to a defensive back with the ‘Canes.

“The switch, at the very beginning, it was very tough,” he said. “Coming from the offensive side of the ball and guarding Division I receivers, it was not easy.

“I’m starting to get the hang of it now. The biggest thing was the technique — I’m starting to get the technique down.”

Hurricanes coach Al Golden sounded impressed by what he had seen of Lewis so far.

“The one thing I can tell you about Ray-Ray is he is a learner,” Golden said. “He is a football kid. Everything we teach him, he learns and he improves.

“Now, he’s got a long way to go because he doesn’t have the number of reps over his whole career playing that position and a comfort level, but he’s a learner and he’s just a guy who figures things out. And I’m excited about that.”

Lewis said he would be open to red-shirting if the coaches felt that was best.

“I’m not trying to rush anything,” he said. “My time is going to come.”

Senior quarterback Stephen Morris said it was “great” Ray Lewis III followed his dad’s Hurricane tracks.

“This school is all about family and tradition, so having another Ray Lewis here obviously is great,” Morris said. “The family that he comes from is legendary, so everything that he does probably will be magnified, but he’s an amazing athlete as well.”

A few feet away from where Lewis was speaking, fellow freshman Al-Quadin Muhammad was saying it would be cool to have a nickname. He’s a defensive end and envisioned a label that would get a quarterback’s attention.

But which would be better, a nickname or being the offspring of a Hurricanes legend?

“Both are great, but being Ray Lewis’ son is great … that’s awesome,” Muhammad said. “I guess I’d go with that.”

Charlie

McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net

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