This article is a part of our 2012 Player Projections series. During the summer months Blue & Gold Illustrated will be evaluating each player on Notre Dame’s projected two-deep depth chart — reviewing their careers to this point and discussing expectations for the year to come.
Kapron Lewis-Moore runs through drills during practice at the Loftus Center.
Kapron Lewis-Moore — DE
Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 306
Experience: 32 appearances, 29 starts
Stats: 140 tackles, 6 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss
During the first four years of his career at Notre Dame Kapron Lewis-Moore climbed slowly and steadily into an essential role along the Irish defensive front.
The fifth-year senior has added more than 75 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame since arriving in South Bend as an overshadowed outside linebacker candidate. After becoming a mainstay at defensive end as a sophomore it looked like he would take a back seat to rising stars Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch a year ago. Lynch’s early departure this spring vaulted Lewis-Moore back into a critical goal for the Irish in his last year in South Bend.
Last season, he detached the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the team’s 31-17 loss to USC. The ensuing surgery kept Lewis-Moore off the field for the rest of the season and gave him one more hurdle to leap on his way back onto the field.
“The hardest part was just trying to stay in it mentally, because there were times I didn’t want to be around here,” he said. “After my first two weeks of being a baby about it, the I started getting my mind right.”
Lewis-Moore returned healthy for spring practice with a new appreciation for the chance to play even before he took back his spot in the starting lineup.
“It’s a blessing to be out there because you never know, you might never be able to play again,” he said.
He understands his place on the team as a leader and a started he hdoesn’t have any feeling of being threatened by anyone else he understands how important he is to the organization and how much value he has in the organization.
As the only seasoned veteran remaining along the defensive line, Lewis-Moore will be in charge of breaking in an exciting young group of talented players that have been touted as the new cornerstone of Brian Kelly’s team. There is plenty of talent in the group but little significant playing experience beyond Tuitt and nose guard Louis Nix. The Texas native seems to have embraced his role of the senior statesmen for his position group.
“He understands his place on the team as a leader and a starter,” defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said this spring. “He doesn’t have any feeling of being threatened by anyone else he understands how important he is to the organization and how much value he has in the organization.”
Lewis-Moore’s value isn’t limited to his sage wisdom. After a summer in which he recommitted himself to training and rehabbing his knee, he will have to replace the explosive play-making ability of Lynch. Notre Dame will rely on the front seven to help its young secondary by keeping pressure in the backfield this year. Lewis-Moore is going to have to be more of a consistent force behind the line of scrimmage than he has been in the past.
What’s a Good Season?
Lewis-Moore has made improvements each year thus far and should make another one in 2012. He’s currently 64 tackles shy of cracking the top 10 list of tackles for a defensive linemen at Notre Dame. Only 11 Irish defensive linemen have topped 200 career tackles and only one (Trevor Laws) since 1990. Sixty-four tackles would be a new career high for Lewis-Moore and a good bar to set at the start of the season.
He made the preseason watch list for the Bronco Nagurski Award (best defensive player in the country). And while that’s not likely to last throughout much of the season, Lewis-Moore should be in contention to be an All-Independent defensive player at the end of the year and a candidate for the 2013 NFL Draft.