In his first year with the Illinois linebacking corp (previous four seasons were at the defensive ends coach), Osia Lewis turned a young group of players into one of most dominant in the Big Ten. Junior middle linebacker Jerry Schumacher earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after leading the team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. First-year starters Ty Myers and Joe Bevis also were impressive in their debut seasons. Myers had two tackles for loss, while also picking off two passes. Bevis was third on the squad in tackles and stopped seven plays behind the line of scrimmage. Lewis is coaching a position that earned him All-America honors at Oregon State.
Under Lewis in 2000, senior defensive end Fred Wakefield became the first first-team All-Big Ten selection for Illinois since Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy in 1995. Wakefield totaled nine sacks and 21 tackles for loss and his career marks rank in the top-three in the Illinois record books.
Lewis tutored defensive ends Wakefield and senior Rameel Connor during the 1999 campaign. Combined, the duo produced 12 sacks for 87 yards and 120 tackles, including 26 for a loss. In 1998, senior Jeff Weisse broke NFL star Simeon Riceís single game school record with six tackles-for-loss against Middle Tennessee State.
Lewis joined the Illini staff after spending six seasons coaching linebackers and special teams at Oregon State. He was a graduate assistant in the OSU athletic department from 1987-88 before moving to Western Oregon State as an assistant football coach in 1989-90. Lewis joined the Oregon State staff under Jerry Pettibone in January, 1991, coaching outside linebackers and special teams.
As a player, Lewis was an All-American linebacker and four-year letterman at OSU from 1982-85. A long jumper and standout quarterback and punter at Tucson (Ariz.) High School, Lewis played quarterback, safety, linebacker and wide receiver for the Beavers. He was named Most Inspirational Player at OSU in 1985, served as team captain and earned All-Pac 10 and Associated Press honorable mention All-American honors in 1985. Lewis holds Oregon State records for single-season defensive points, season fumble recoveries (4), career fumble recoveries (8) and tackles for loss in a game (4).
Lewis enjoyed stints with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League and Chicago Bruisers and New York Firebirds in the Arena Football League. He earned All-Arena League honors in 1988 and played in the 1988 Arena Bowl.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Lewis earned his B.S. in social science education from Oregon State in 1986 and his masterís degree in education from OSU in 1989.
Lewis and his wife, Darlene, have two children, a son, Marvin, and a daughter, Kiana, and reside in Savoy.