- 48 receptions
- 605 yards
- 12.6 yards per catch
- 5 touchdowns
- 107 rushing yards
- 98 return yards
The 2016 season was supposed to be a coming out party for Kahlil Lewis. In some ways it was. He showed a ton of ability as a pass-catcher, made some dynamic plays out of the backfield and even lent a hand on special teams. What held Lewis back from his star potential was largely the offense around him. Inconsistent quarterback play, questionable play-calling and inefficient ball movement kept the junior wideout from ascending into the stratosphere. However, even with those things limiting him, Lewis still did enough to show how talented he is.
He had a nose for the end zone, tying with Devin Gray (more on him in the coming weeks) for the team lead in touchdown receptions (five). He was also second to Gray in receiving yards (605) averaging a respectable 12.6 yards per catch. His 48 grabs were third on the roster, but his play-making ability was more impressive than that of Nate Cole, who hauled in 57 passes, but did not touch the ball otherwise. The same cannot be said of Lewis, who was used on a few gimmick run plays and managed to escape for 107 yards on nine carries. He ranked third on the team in rushing yards despite finishing tied for sixth in attempts. Of course the bulk of his rushing success came on one play, as he scampered 79 yards to set up a Cole touchdown reception in the first quarter of the Purdue game. Then there was Lewis’ contributions in the return game. He wasn’t the primary option (that was Mike Boone), but he did pick up 98 yards on six returns.
Having such a swiss-army-knife of a wide receiver was a benefit to the Bearcats’ attempts to move the ball, even if those attempts were not always effective overall.
The Best of the Best
Sept. 10 at Purdue
In one of Cincinnati’s most impressive (and few) wins of the season, Lewis played a solid role in keeping the wheels moving. Along with his 79-yard escape, he also brought in two passes for 32 yards, finishing the game second on the team in all-purpose yards (111).
Sept. 24 vs. Miami-Ohio
In another winning effort for the Bearcats, Lewis was highly involved. For the first time in his career he led the team in receptions (six) and receiving yards (88).
Oct. 1 vs. USF
Even if it didn’t come in a win, Lewis tallied a team-high in receiving yards once again (77) and brought in his second touchdown reception of the season.
Oct. 22 vs. East Carolina
As Rihanna would say, “This is what you came for.” It was against ECU that Lewis gave us the full extent of his abilities as a wide receiver. He set season-highs for all Bearcat wideouts with 11 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns. The rest of UC’s roster had a total of 12 receptions.
For Next Year
Unfortunately for Lewis, his big performance against ECU came with Gunner Kiel under center. With Kiel gone he will need to find a bit more of a repertoire with Ross Trail or Hayden Moore, depending on who takes hold of the starting job next year. Another departure will also push Lewis into a bigger role, as Cole will no longer be the senior leader of the receiving corps.
Lewis was and still is bursting with talent and perhaps a more clear offensive gameplan from a new regime, along with an expanded role, will allow him to make a bigger splash.