Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Top UConn commit keeping his options open

I spoke to record-setting Ansonia High running back Arkeel Newsome a couple days after Paul Pasqualoni was fired as UConn's head coach and Newsome was rock solid in his status as a UConn commit.

I caught up with Newsome at today's CIAC pre-championship game luncheon and he wasn't ready to say that he is 100 percent firm on his commitment. The question I posed to him is if he told that other schools expressing interest to go away because he is set to head to UConn.

"Right now, no , I am not too sure," Newsome said. "My main focus right now is UConn. I definitely hope it works out."

Newsome feels comfortable with UConn interim head coach and offensive coordinator T.J. Weist as well as running backs coach Kermit Buggs but he isn't sure who is going to be the head coach at UConn.

"It is kind of scary because I need to get to know them," Newsome said. "Right now, I pay attention. I know the head coach, the offensive coordinator, we talk a lot. I am anxious to know who the head coach is going to be so I can meet him and have a relationship.

"The finished off fantastic with three wins, the last game against Memphis was a blowout, it was great to finish off that way."

Newsome's approach on his recruiting is similar to many of the players who committed to UConn when Paul Pasqualoni was the head coach. Rochester (NY.) quarterback Justin Noye (who projects to play receiver), Suffield Academy running back Brice McAllister and Leicester (MA) linebacker Tom Rodrick are among those who have gone on the record as saying they are committed to UConn and taking a wait and see approach. The only player known to have decommit was Milford Academy tight end Jordan Fuchs, who is now committed to Rutgers. Milford Academy coach Bill Chaplick said cornerback Jamar Summers and offensive tackle Chasz Wright are still committed to UConn and looking forward to enrolling at Connecticut next month.

Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said he expects that Newsome will head to up as long as the new coach wants him there.

"UConn has done a good job of being in contact with him and have stepped up, the guys who have recruited them are still there," Brockett said. "He wanted to play for the home state and it was important to him so obviously there are a lot of people around the country who would like him to be here next year. At this point he is still firm on that and we will wait and see if the new coach wants him, that is where he will end up.

"Obviously he is one of the top backs in the country so you are going to have interest (from other colleges)."

Newsome owns pretty much every single-season and career rushing and scoring record in state history. He will wrap up his extraordinary career on Friday when the Chargers face NVL rival Woodland in the Class S title game.

Newsome has run 299 times for 3,608 and 68 touchdowns for the 14-0 Chargers. He needs 156 rushing yards to break his own state record set during the 2011 season. Newsome has 25 games with at least 200 yards rushing, 13 300-yard games and three games, including two in the last three contests, over 400 yards.

Newsome admitted to feeling pressure to end his high school career with a third consecutive title.

Despite the incredibly gaudy numbers, Newsome doesn't enjoy being viewed as the sole reason behind Ansonia's success.

"We are just a big family," Newsome said. "We push each other, we help each other out.

"It kind of does(bother him) because they think we are a one-man show but my team definitely helps out a lot, they don’t get the publicity."

Brockett said the individual accolades are not anywhere on Newsome's list of priorities.

"That is not important to him," Brockett said. "You can take all those things, the player of the year awards and if you talk to Arkeel Newsome and he thinks about one thing and that is getting a win on Friday night.

"A lot of people could learn from him, how humble he has been, how he has kind of pushed to get better and better so it has been a remarkable career and it is incredible how he has handled it."



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