Deantre Lewis during the game against NAU (Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE)
Arizona State's secondary depth has been a major issue all offseason long. Beyond the starting foursome of cornerbacks Deveron Carr, Osahon Irabor, safeties Alden Darby and Keelan Johnson and nickleback Robert Nelson, the Sun Devils have experienced nothing but concern to one of the team's most crucial units.
Injuries to Devan Spann and Rashad Wadood have drained the depth to dangerous levels, and having already moved former wide receivers Jarrid Bryant and Kevin Anderson to cornerback, another offensive player will soon be sliding over to defense.
During his weekly press conference, Todd Graham said that running back Deantre Lewis will be given a shot on the defensive side of the ball.
"We are probably going to look at Deantre Lewis a little bit," Graham said. "I think Deantre can still do the things he is doing on the offense. We have a whole arsenal of guys there. Deantre is a team guy and came to me and said if you need me to help you, I'll help you, so we are going to look and try and see if he can help us there, if not in-depth than in a certain package or a way like that.
The team is looking at trying Lewis at a few spots in the secondary to take advantage of his tremendous athleticism.
"Where we will probably look at him is a ‘spur/bandit' type deal, specifically in our dime package, our third downs. I think we could put him in at third down and tell him to rush the quarterback and he'd be able to do that and do it pretty well. So we will see."
Currently, the dynamic Chris Young is the starter at the spur spot, a hybrid of safety and linebacker, and leads the team with five tackles-for-loss. Alden Darby is the starter at bandit safety, and leads the team with two interceptions.
While the move may help a beleaguered defense, it is one that is not viewed favorably by offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.
"I'll be honest with you, Coach Norvell is not for it," Graham said. "But we have to do what is best for the team, especially long range."
While the team will try this out during practice, there is no guarantee that Lewis will indeed see defensive playing time during games. This is just in the experimental phase.
"We might look at it and nothing come of it but Deantre was more than willing, as a team guy, saying that whatever he can do to help the team he will. He is a phenomenal athlete and a very physical guy doing a great job."
This also is not the end of Lewis' days as a running back.
"I don't think that he is not going to be a running back but if we can utilize him in a dime-nickel package on a third down, then why not? The reps he is getting on offense are limited because of all the guys we have there but he is still going to be able to do all those things as well."
After missing all of 2011 while recovering from a gunshot wound, Lewis has battled back to the active roster. He has seen time in both games and has four carries for 12 yards, all coming in the opener against NAU. As a true freshman in 2010, Lewis was electric, rushing for 539 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in 23 passes for 370 yards and two scores.