Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis was arrested early Friday morning and is facing a disorderly conduct charge, according to multiple outlets.
Lewis, one of the most talented players on the Mississippi State defense, is a central figure in the NCAA case that resulted in a two-year bowl ban, among other sanctions, for Ole Miss, MSU’s heated in-state rival.
According to WTVA in Starkville, the 21-year-old Lewis was arrested “around 1 a.m.” in Oktibbeha County. From WTVA:
The Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were dispatched to Aspen Heights Apartments for a call of a large crowd or people and cars blocking streets. As officers were attempting to clear the streets, the sheriff’s department says a vehicle driven by Lewis attempted to push through traffic depsite deputies’ directions for traffic to exit in the opposite direction.
“After several attempts to gain compliance, Lewis was taken into custody,” stated the sheriff’s department.
Lewis, a native of Brookhaven, Miss., was a top 50 recruit who was hotly pursued by both Ole Miss and Mississippi State. He was once verbally committed to Ole Miss, but ultimately signed with rival MSU.
Lewis’ recruitment was the subject of intense scrutiny and was featured heavily through the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations to Ole Miss.
He is referred to as “Student-Athlete 39” in the NOA. In NCAA interviews, Lewis alleged that an unnamed Ole Miss booster gave him $13,000 to $15,000 in cash payments to sign to play for the Rebels. He, along with MSU teammate Kobe Jones, also said boosters and former Ole Miss assistant coaches arranged for them to receive approximately $2,800 of free memorabilia and other benefits courtesy of Rebel Rags, an Oxford-based apparel store.
Ole Miss contended that the most serious NCAA charges against it, including lack of institutional control and violating head coach responsibility against Hugh Freeze, relied “almost exclusively” on Lewis’ testimony, which the school described as “at best incomplete and inconsistent.”
Lewis was reportedly granted “limited immunity” for multiple meetings with the NCAA, which protected Lewis from “certain consequences for violating NCAA legislation” and allowed him to speak openly.
Throughout it all, Lewis has been eligible to play for MSU. Lewis, who will be a redshirt junior in 2018, totaled 125 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in two seasons for the Bulldogs. After redshirting in 2015, Lewis was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by the league’s coaches in 2016.
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