Terrell Lewis ’16 becomes first Cadet selected in the NFL Draft

This year’s draft night was a historic one for the St. John’s football program. From his living room, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Los Angeles Rams selected Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis with the 20th pick in the 3rd round. Cameras cut quickly to Lewis’ home, where t a black St. John’s jersey with a silver helmet was prominently displayed.

Lewis, who graduated in 2016 as Terrell Hall before changing his name the next year, becomes the first Cadet to ever be selected in the NFL, and the second ever to sign an NFL contract. His former teammate, wide receiver Scotty Washington ‘15 became the third the next day after signing with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest.

In his senior season on Miltary Road, Lewis recorded 42 tackles, 21 for loss, and 9 sacks. He was selected as USA Today and Gatorade’s D.C. Player of the Year and invited to Under Armour’s All America Game.

Joe Patterson, who coached Lewis at St. John’s before becoming head coach at Ave Maria University, said that Lewis “is a player that can really change the game the moment he steps on the field,” and he’s excited about Lewis’ football future.

After an 11-game freshman season with Alabama, Lewis tore an elbow ligament in his first game as a sophomore. He missed most of the 2017 season, returning for the final four games and making his first start in the Tide’s ultimately victorious 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. The following summer, he tore his ACL and was forced to take a medical redshirt year. In his junior year, he recorded 31 tackles, 11.5 for loss and 6.0 as sacks, was named to the all-SEC second team and played in the 2020 Senior Bowl. 

There were concerns that these injuries would affect his draft stock (as discussed in The Sabre’s draft preview), but that appears not to have been a major factor, as he was the Rams’ 3rd selection of 2020. He enters a team in need of linebackers: RamsWire emphasized a need for new talent at both inside and outside linebacker heading into the draft, and Rams blog Turf Show Times writer Kenneth Arthur said Lewis could make an impact in his first year with Los Angeles.

Lewis’ selection to the NFL is a sign of the revitalization efforts for the St. John’s football program, and with the Class of 2020 boasting multiple 5-star college recruits, it could easily be an upward trend for the Cadets’ gridiron future.

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