Back to the books

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

If Nik Lewis is as successful in his future career as he is on the football field, hundreds of young kids will benefit from his work.

The Calgary Stampeders receiver may be one of the youngest players on the CFL team but that hasn't stopped him from preparing for post-career goals.

Lewis, who leads the Stamps with 59 catches for 1,015 yards, is working towards becoming a high school teacher by continuing his education in the off-season.

After winning the CFL's rookie-of-the-year award following a stellar freshman season of 2004, Lewis hit the books back at his alma mater, Southern Arkansas.

In another couple of years, Lewis will earn an education degree with the plan of being one of those cool teachers who can inspire and command respect at the same time.

The 23-year-old's love of helping others comes from being around family members and having fans look up to him.

"I have a lot of little cousins who are around the junior-high age. I really love working with them," Lewis said. "When I go back home to my school, a lot of guys come up and talk to me about things. I even work with some of my old college teammates sometimes."

Lewis grew up in Jacksboro, Tex., where he was a star quarterback in high school. He was a walk-on at Southern Arkansas as a receiver and promptly started breaking school records left and right.

When Lewis left the college after last season, he set nine marks for receivers, including 1,239 yards, 14 receiving touchdowns and 1,429 all-purpose yards in a single season.

At school, he developed the ability to shake tacklers the way a cat tosses water from its fur. Even with a half-dozen opponents around him after a catch, Lewis never seems to panic. He can often turn a loss into a 10-yard gain.

"It's heart. A lot of people can catch the ball during a game. That's not what makes people special," Lewis explained. "A lot of catches aren't hard. Doing that extra makes me different than everybody else. That makes me worth something to this team.

"I have the heart and desire to get into the endzone, or if I can't do that, then I have to get a first down and let somebody else have a chance at scoring."

Because he's such a laid-back person off the field, once Lewis straps on the shoulder pads, he becomes a different person.

Lewis has nicknamed his game-day persona Geronimo Jones for the focused, intense personality that often makes him dance or jump into the stands when he scores a touchdown.

Away from the field of play, Lewis isn't at all cocky or a showboater. In the presence of elders, he's quite respectful.

"I have a different attitude. When I step on the field, I feel like nobody can stop me. It's an attitude I have out there," Lewis said.

"Off the field, there are a lot of people in the world who can do things I can't do. I don't look down on anyone because of that. There are a lot of people who are professional at what they do."

Before the season started, Lewis signed a contract extension to remain in Calgary for at least another two seasons. If he sticks with it, there's a chance the 5-ft. 10-in., 205-pounder could take a run at Allen Pitts' Stampeders receiving records.

But Lewis already has a timeline for when he'll quit football and begin the teaching career he so covets.

"I plan on being done with football by 30," Lewis said. "I love the game now, so I'll have to see if I can walk away. I want to pack it in and enjoy my life.

"I don't think I would say around just to break records. You might break a record and then somebody else will come along and break it the next year."

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BIO BLITZ

WIDE RECEIVER NIK LEWIS

Age -- 23.

Born -- June 3, 1982, in Mineral Wells, Tex.

Years in CFL -- 2.

College -- Southern Arkansas.

Previous CFL stops -- None.

Titles -- 2004 CFL rookie of the year.

Did you know -- Was a track athlete in high school, specializing in triple jump.


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