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July 21, 2008
New focus has Newsome back on track
PAISLEY, Fla. – This wasn't the same Kevin Newsome.
Newsome, the four-star quarterback from Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch who is committed to Michigan, had struggled for one reason or another at several events this spring and summer. Even as recently as the EA Sports Elite 11 regional camp in early June, Newsome wasn't displaying the skills that made him one of the nation's best quarterback prospects.
But that Newsome wasn't the same guy who was on field at the All-Star Sports Complex this weekend. The Newsome on display at the Football University Top Gun Showcase Camp was confident, sure of his throws and accurate.
Instead of overthrowing or bouncing passes, he was making the right reads on progressions and nailing wide-open receiver after wide-open receiver. This was the quarterback who got college coaches and recruiting fans drooling.
"I've been throwing every day," said Newsome, who is one of the most physically impressive players in the nation at 6 feet 3 and 220 pounds. "I just decided to do it and stop complaining about the time I didn't have because of track. I just decided to start working harder to make up for the time I didn't have with track."
That hard work was on display first in Saturday's evening sessions and continued all day Sunday and again on Monday morning. After the other quarterbacks were done working out on Saturday and Sunday, Newsome was outside throwing passes at targets all by himself.
He wants to get better, and he's quickly made tremendous progress.
"I think I showed better poise and better focus, that's all," Newsome said. "Physically, I've been working hard. I know I have all the physical ability. It's the mental part. Going to a military school, that's going to help tremendously."
That school is Hargrave Military Academy. Newsome said the Top Gun Camp was great preparation for him to get ready for the adjustment of the new school. The camp was run like an NFL training camp, where cell phones, PlayStations and other distractions were thrown by the wayside in exchange for hours upon hours of football drill work.
Newsome said it's going to be an adjustment to that lifestyle, but it's one he knows he has to make to become the quarterback he knows he can be.
"Just like every guy out here, I like females, but sometimes you have to focus on what you have to focus on to get where you want to get to," he said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do what I've got to do. That's my new saying – do what you've got to do."
And to do what he's got to do, he knows it's going to take focus.
"That's what it's all about – staying focused on the big picture," he said. "And if you believe in yourself, you're going to achieve. Wait, that's going to be my new, new slogan. If you believe in yourself, then you're going to achieve."
Some still question where he will be achieving in college. Newsome has been the focus of widespread speculation that he's going to end up somewhere other than Michigan. After not wanting to talk about recruiting on Saturday and Sunday, he opened up a little bit on Monday.
"I'm committed to Michigan," Newsome said. "Me and Bryce McNeal were going around bragging how we're going to beat Randall Carroll, who's going to USC, Cierre Wood, who's going to Notre Dame. We were bragging about things like that."
Newsome said he really hit it off with McNeal.
"It was great to be around a guy that's going to be a future teammate hopefully," he said. "He's a great guy. Bryce is a good, good guy. He's one of my boys now. We're going to really stay in touch."
Wrapping it up
Monday's session was cut a little short because of players departing and the extreme 95-plus degree Florida heat. Even though practice was only about an hour, several players had good days.
Colorado high school football fans will need to get to learn the name Danny Spond of Littleton (Colo.) Columbine. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound class of 2010 gunslinger zipped some an amazing passes on Monday. He connected a few times with Randall Carroll and Anthony Foster on what would have been easy touchdowns.
Michael Carter of Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely, Byron Moore of Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne and Gabe Lynn of Jenks, Okla., all had very strong final outings. Carter locked down almost everybody he faced, and Moore had another big interception in seven-on-seven drills. Lynn also went up against the camp's best like Foster, Carroll and Shaquelle Evans and was great closing on the ball.
"This was a great event, and I think all of us defensive backs did a great job," Moore said. "We all heard about all these great receivers out there, but we did our best to cover them. I think we started to really get in their heads by the end of the camp. We were locking them all down."
Despite the attention focused on the top 2009 kids, we can't overlook the star underclassmen in the camp – especially running backs Lache Seastrunk of Temple, Texas, and Marlin Lane of Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland.
Seastrunk, one of the best players in the 2010 class, was just as dominating in the three-day camp as the older four- and five-star prospects. He tested well on Sunday with a 33.5-inch vertical leap and then carried it over to the field with great drill work and great hands in one-on-ones and seven-on-sevens. Seastrunk was one of the smaller backs in the camp, but he is still well-defined with legs built like an Olympic sprinter. He's got the goods to be one of the best of the best next year.
And Lane has to go down as the biggest surprise of the camp.
Lane, who is a 2011 prospect, already looks like he could step on a college football field, which is amazing because he's just 15-years old. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was a Class 1A all-state selection this past season at DeLeon Springs (Fla.) Lighthouse Christian, but he'll transfer to Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland this fall. Not only did he impress in drill work, but he had two of the best testing results of the camp with a 33.5-inch vertical leap and a 4.24 second shuttle time.
On defense, there's no question after seeing Marvin Robinson of Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region on Saturday and Sunday that he's going to be one of the best in the 2010 class. He made big play after big play in drills and then in one-on-one battles. He was the one guy who was consistently able to hang with both the physical and speedy backs in the camp.
USC fans worried about Randall Carroll's commitment status can maybe rest a little easier knowing he worked out Monday with USC Trojan socks on.
Bryce McNeal told Rivals.com that he might be taking all five of his official visits, but he was seen almost the entire weekend wearing something with a Michigan logo on it.
The California crew spent Monday morning before drills debating what team would come on top if they faced each other. The debate quickly turned heated, until a calm and cool Carroll walked up to everybody and told them, "our school has money, and we'll come and play you guys anytime, anywhere." Cierre Wood said he would take Carroll up on that challenge. So don't be shocked if we see a Los Angeles Cathedral vs. Oxnard Santa Clara scrimmage this fall some time.