Former Bears RB Darren Lewis passes away after battle with cancer

Former Bears RB Darren Lewis passes away after battle with cancer

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BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION — Darren Lewis, a two-time All-American running back and the all-time leading rusher in both Texas A&M and Southwest Conference history, passed away after a battle with cancer. Lewis was born Nov. 7, 1968, in Dallas.

Lewis came out of Carter High School in Dallas in 1986 and was considered one of the top prep running backs in the country along with Randy Simmons and Emmitt Smith. Aggie head coach Jackie Sherrill signed Lewis and Simmons.

Lewis, nicknamed Tank, lettered for the Aggies in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990 and was inducted into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

In 1987, Lewis rushed for 668 yards (5.3 avg) and scored eight rushing touchdowns and was named the Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year by The Associated Press. He burst out with an 80-yard touchdown scamper against TCU.

As a sophomore in 1988, the Aggies opened the season at the Kickoff Classic in the Meadowlands against Nebraska. Lewis injured his toe on the first carry of the second half and finished the game with 41 yards on 10 carries. He missed the LSU contest due to injury before coming back against Oklahoma State to rush for 168 yards on 25 carries, out-gaining OSU's Barry Sanders, the 1988 Heisman winner, who posted 158 yards, though the Cowboys won the game. Lewis would rush for more than 100 yards in every remaining game (10 straight) and finished the year with 1,692 yards, setting the Texas A&M single-season rushing record. That figure bested the 1302 yards set by Bob Smith in 1950. Lewis' school record would stand until 2018 when Trayveon Williams rushed for 1760 yards.

Lewis earned 1988 All-Southwest Conference and SWC Offensive Player of the Year honors as well as All-America accolades. Lewis finished second in the 1988 NCAA rushing title to Heisman winner Barry Sanders who posted 2628 rushing yards.

In 1989, Lewis played in the first 10 games before a knee injury sidelined him. He gained 961 yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in head coach R.C. Slocum's first season as the Aggies' head coach. Lewis would break off an 84-yard run against Houston, the longest run from scrimmage in his career.

For Lewis' All-SWC and All-America senior season in 1990, he finished tied for eighth in the Heisman balloting behind winner Ty Detmer from BYU. Lewis rushed for 1,691 yards and had 18 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. He had his top single game with 232 yards on the ground against Texas Tech. He eclipsed the 200-yard mark again against SMU rushing for 207 net yards. He scored four rushing touchdowns in games against Houston and SMU. His career total of 5,012 rushing yards broke the old SWC record of 4,450 yards set by Eric Dickerson from SMU. (Bowl statistics were not included in NCAA season and career totals in this era.)

In Lewis' final game as an Aggie in the 1990 Holiday Bowl, he rushed for 104 yards on 25 carries and scored two rushing touchdowns in helping Texas A&M defeat Heisman winner Ty Detmer and the BYU Cougars, 65-14. Lewis would also throw a touchdown pass of 39 yards to quarterback Bucky Richardson. The lefthanded running back also tossed touchdown throws to Gary Oliver in 1987 against Rice and to Tony Thompson in the 1988 Cotton Bowl win over Notre Dame.

Lewis was drafted in the sixth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and played three seasons with the Bears.

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