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Michael Lewis Returns to Utah Blaze - Arena Football on Astini News

Defensive lineman Michael Lewis is finally healthy again, and he'll be returning to the Utah Blaze for the 2012 Arena Football League season.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Lewis set the Blaze franchise single-season record for sacks in 2011, bringing opposing quarterbacks down 10.5 times, more than double the old record (5) set by Dwayne Missouri in 2008 and tied by Caesar Rayford in 2010. His sack total ranked fifth in the league last season.

Lewis also forced seven fumbles in 2011, which was tops in the AFL and tied for second all-time in league history, just one shy of the 2010 total of Gabe Nyenhuis. He was named second-team All-Arena at the end of the season.

Lewis accomplished all of this while only playing 16 games last season before suffering a season-ending torn labrum in his shoulder. Despite missing the final two games of the year, he finished with 34.5 tackles, 11.5 of which went for a loss of a combined 55 yards. Additionally, he broke up four passes, recovered three fumbles, and recorded a quarterback hurry.

"We are excited to have Mike Lewis back with the Blaze for the 2012 season," said Blaze president and head coach Ron James in a press release. "He was extremely productive for us last season and a leader for our football team. Mike helps set the tone for our defense and we are looking for another stellar season from him this year."

In four years at Adrian College, Lewis set school records for career sacks (40.5), tackles for loss (60.5), and fumble recoveries (7). During his senior season alone, he racked up 43 tackles, 24 of which went for a loss, and eight sacks—a performance that earned him first-team All America and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Defensive MVP honors.

After his college career, he spent 2008 with the af2's Albany Conquest, where he registered nine sacks. In 2009, he leveled eight quarterbacks with the Peoria Pirates before moving up to the Arena Football League in 2010 with the Iowa Barnstormers. In seven games with the 'Stormers, Lewis tallied 12.5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

"After missing out on the playoffs last season, I feel we have some unfinished business," said Lewis through the team. "I'm looking forward to doing my part to push the Utah Blaze to the next level in 2012. We have great ownership, coaches and fans. It's exciting to be back!"

The Blaze open their 2012 campaign on the road against the San Antonio Talons on March 10. Their home opener is set for March 24 against the division rival San Jose SaberCats.

The author is a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.

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