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Former Notre Dame cornerback Clarence Lewis commits to Syracuse

IMG_7504by:Jack Soble04/16/24


Former Notre Dame cornerback Clarence Lewis has committed to Syracuse, the graduate transfer announced on social media Tuesday morning. Lewis has one year of eligibility remaining.

The Edison, N.J. native is moving back to the Northeast, where he’ll join an Orange team led by first-year head coach Fran Brown. Brown was hired after former head coach Dino Babers failed to finish above .500 for the fifth-straight season and seventh time in his eight-year tenure.

As of March 29, Ourlads has redshirt sophomore and fellow ex-Irish defensive back Jayden Bellamy listed as the starter for Syracuse at boundary cornerback. Buffalo transfer Devin Grant, a first-team All-Mid-American Conference player this past season after leading the MAC in interceptions with five, is set to start on the field side.

Bellamy played 442 snaps this past season and graded well, according to Pro Football Focus. Lewis will compete with him and Grant for playing time on the outside, and the 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back can play in the slot as well.

Lewis appeared in every game the past four seasons with the Irish, starting two games in 2023. The Middletown (N.J.) Mater Dei graduate was a valued backup defensive back for the Irish, with the ability to play both the corner and nickel positions. 

“We always know C-Lew can play nickel,” Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said March 7. “We have that in our mind that if something happens and we need C-Lew to play nickel, he can play nickel. Right now, he’s playing corner for us and doing a lot of different things for our defense.”

However, Lewis did not have a realistic path to starting for Notre Dame in his final college season. He entered the transfer portal on March 29.

After Lewis backed up Thomas Harper at nickel in 2023, the Irish acquired Arizona State graduate transfer Jordan Clark for the 2024 season as Harper’s eligibility expired. Freeman all but declared Clark the starter at nickel on arrival, closing the door for Lewis there.

At cornerback, sophomore Jaden Mickey and freshman Christian Gray are expected to compete to start alongside Morrison (who is expected to be ready for football season) after veteran Cam Hart left for the NFL Draft. Both played over Lewis when Morrison and Hart were injured Oct. 28 against Pittsburgh, and both impressed Freeman with their performances.

In 51 games and 23 starts, Lewis totaled 124 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, a sack and 3 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also recovered a fumble and forced 3 more.

In coverage, Lewis was targeted 172 times over his Notre Dame career, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed 110 receptions for 1,398 yards, an average of 8.13 yards per target. Lewis gave up a passer rating of 101.4 over the course of his career.

In Lewis’ absence, senior cornerback Chance Tucker will likely see more reps at corner and sophomore Micah Bell should get more of a shot at nickel.

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