That’s what Jourdan Lewis felt when a not guilty verdict came down on Tuesday in a Michigan court room, clearing him of misdemeanor domestic violence and assault and battery charges stemming from a March incident with an ex-girlfriend.
It marked the end of a trying few months for Lewis, who saw his draft stock fall because of the accusations. The Dallas Cowboys did their due diligence on him, though, and felt comfortable using a third-round pick to take the cornerback out of Michigan.
Lewis went through his first training camp practice Thursday in limited fashion and expects to be full-go when the team returns to the practice field Saturday. Friday is an off day.
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“I’m just elated to be out here and glad it’s over with,” Lewis said. “Just excited that long, grueling process, that long period of time, is over. Get it behind me and come out here and play football.”
Lewis, 21, has maintained his innocence from Day 1. He told the Cowboys that during the pre-draft process, and told reporters the same minutes after being selected by Dallas.
Still, it became an ordeal that hung over his head. Lewis said the most difficult part had been people questioning his character.
“It definitely hurt on a national scale a lot of people not knowing who I am and not knowing who I am as a person,” Lewis said. “It definitely hurt my feelings a little bit. I just forgive all parties for whatever happened. It’s just behind me and I’m excited to get out here and play football.”
Lewis acknowledged he could have pleaded to a lesser charge, but: “I believe in myself. I believe in the truth. I just thank God the truth came out.”
Even though Lewis had a good feeling about his case, leaving it in the hands of a jury is always dicey, particularly with the charges he faced.
“A lot of those guys, you know, the guy – the alleged defendant – is always the underdog,” Lewis said. “But just believing in myself and believing in the truth and believing in God is definitely some of the things that helped me go through this process.”
Throughout the entire process, the Cowboys had supported Lewis. Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett both vouched for him after getting nothing but positive feedback from his college coaches.
Taco Charlton, the Cowboys’ first-round pick who played with Lewis at Michigan, also stood by him.
In the end, Lewis and the organization felt vindication with the verdict.
“I was relieved,” Lewis said. “I was just excited to come down here. I was excited for my family, too. I know that was a nerve-racking experience for them.”
Lewis has shifted his attention to football now and is among the promising young players in the Cowboys secondary.
He was a first-team All-America in 2015 and 2016 at Michigan, finishing his college career with six interceptions, and is expected to compete for playing time early on. Lewis only went through individual drills on Thursday, including some work as a punt returner.
He’s ready to ramp it up with a workout Friday and get going against the Cowboys receiving corps that includes Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley.
“I just have to take it one step at a time, trying to make the team right now,” Lewis said. “Starting job? That’s a lot. That’s a handful to say. Just coming out here and competing to my best ability. That’s all I want to accomplish.”
Added Garrett: “He had a really good spring and we felt really good about what he did with the work that we gave him as an inside guy, as an outside guy and as a returner. It’s good to see him back out there.”