Kobe Lewis rehabbing knee injury, will return to Chippewas for summer workouts
Central Michigan junior running back Kobe Lewis won't be with the team for spring ball, which started March 19, but is expected to be at full health when the Chippewas begin summer workouts.
The Americus, Georgia native missed all of 2021 after suffering a non-contact knee injury. He's currently rehabbing his injury in Atlanta and should return to action when CMU begins summer workouts ahead of the 2022 season.
"He's taking everything online," said head coach Jim McElwain. "He had an opportunity to be at a great rehab place back home, you know, the resources and the people around him and we've been keeping tabs on him. He's been sending videos of his workouts, should be back 100 %. Obviously, he'll be here the first day that we're back in the summer."
When Lewis does return, the Chippewas will have a formidable backfield duo with he and sophomore Lew Nichols III, who led the country in rushing yards in 2021. CMU has a new offensive coordinator, Paul Petrino, who will be tasked with designing schemes that incorporate both talented backs.
"Now, adding him back into that fold, obviously, with the great year that Lew had, I think that will take some pressure off of Lew to be honest," McElwain said. "You've got to remember (Lewis) was a 1,000 yard rusher the year before the COVID year (2020), so that goes back to that depth in that room."
Indeed, Lewis ran for 1,074 yards in 2019 as the backup to Jonathan Ward. The Chippewas have been deep at running back since McElwain took the reins, and this trend looks to stay the same as the team returns Nichols, Lewis and a pair of rising sophomores in Myles Bailey and Marion Lukes.
Last season, Bailey ran for 114 yards on 30 carries while catching five passes for 46 yards. Lukes, meanwhile, handled kick return duties and made a splash with a 100-yard score in the Chippewas' regular season finale against Eastern Michigan.
With all these returning pieces in the backfield, CMU is forced to make accommodations. One of these is the decision to move two running backs, redshirt freshman De'Javion Stepney and senior Darius Bracy, to the secondary.
Meanwhile, the foursome of Nichols, Lewis, Bailey and Lukes will give the Chippewas a solid backfield foundation.
"We're gonna have to do some things to get multiple running backs onto the field," McElwain said. "So you may see us in some personnel groupings with more than two backs on the field, but creating one back formations because these guys, again, are all guys that need to touch the ball. So being able to get them the ball, not traditionally from the running back spot but maybe out in receiver-type positions, that's something we're really gonna work on this spring."