Boston High School: Tom Brockett

Recruiting Notes: Interest for Newsome building

December, 30, 2012
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Ansonia (Conn.) High School running back Arkeel Newsome is used to being pursued. If opposing defensive players aren't after him, then it's college football coaches who are trying to chase him down.

Newsome, who completed his junior season by leading Ansonia to the Class S state championship Dec. 8, may be the most sought-after recruit in New England next season. He received scholarship offers from the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts last summer, and that list of offers will certainly grow.

“In the last week Rutgers, Penn State and Syracuse have been in,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said the week before Christmas. “He's even getting some interest in the state of Florida -– Florida and Florida State. I would guess between now and May he'll have another 15-20 [offers].

“Almost everyone wants him to carry the ball as a tailback. He has the whole skill-set that great backs have: speed, vision and hands. He'd be a great receiver if he wasn't a tailback. Some college is going to be very fortunate to have him in uniform.”

Newsome made plenty of headlines as a sophomore, when he set Connecticut's single-season rushing record by gaining 3,763 yards. Some media outlets listed him as the nation's leading rusher. Others had him at No. 2.

He gained 2,245 yards and and 34 touchdowns on 227 carries as a junior, when Ansonia stretched the program's winning streak to 28 games by beating North Branford 59-26 in the Class S championship game. He set the state record for career rushing touchdowns in the Class S semifinals, and will enter his senior season with 119 rushing TDs.

Newsome said Boston College, Connecticut, Florida, Miami, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Syracuse are the schools he hears from the most.

“I like making people miss,” he said. “It's a little early to say anything about recruiting. I'm happy with the two offers I have right now. UConn was the first school to offer. I can definitely see myself there.

“I don't know too much about UMass. I haven't seen them play.”

If there's a knock against Newsome it may be his size (5-foot-8, 180 pounds). Brockett insists colleges aren't concerned.

“Not one college who has seen him in person has expressed concern with his size,” Brockett said. “He carries his weight very well.

“He's a physical back. He's a tough, durable back who doesn't come off the field. “

Newsome, who also plays defensive back, isn't lacking speed. He said his best time in the 40-yard dash is 4.49 seconds.

Still, Brockett said Newsome's vision and ability to change direction is what separates him from most backs.

“You have a lot of kids with speed, but those players who can cut on a dime are hard to find,” he said. “Arkeel is humble, he's a hard-worker and he's a great weight room kid. Just by talking to him you'd never know he's the best player in Connecticut.”

MORRIS LIKES THE LOOK OF BROWN
LaSalle Academy (Bristol, R.I.) running back Josh Morris ended his recruitment last week, when he decided to play Ivy League football at Brown. Morris also had offers from Yale, Bryant, Monmouth and Valparaiso. In addition, he had a preferred walk-on option at Northwestern.

Morris said remaining close to home was among the factors that weighed in Brown's favor.

“At Brown I'm going to be able to get in the weight room right away, get in the meetings right away and meet all the players right away,” he said. “By the time camp comes in the summer I'll be tuning my craft rather that learning it.

“By me going to Brown it carried many great perks. The coaching staff is the best staff I've met. They're ready to make me the best player I could possibly be. Not all of us can go to the NFL. If I'm fortunate enough to then that's great, but if I don't I'll have a Brown University degree. And to me that's priceless.

Morris was Rhode Island's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011, when he rushed for 1,278 yards and 16 touchdowns on 134 carries. He also caught nine passes for 175 yards, and averaged 39.8 yards per kickoff return.

He was bothered by an ankle injury for much of last season, but still rushed for 1,442 yards (8.1 yards per carry). Morris injured his ankle during a victory over South Kingstown on Oct. 5, but scored three touchdowns in a 41-24 triumph over Bridgewater-Raynam the following week.

QUARTERBACK OPTIONS
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien turned to New England to fill his quarterback shortage. Salisbury (Conn.) School QB Austin Whipple and Worcester Academy quarterback D.J. Crook were each offered – and accepted – preferred walk-on positions in mid-December.

Crook threw for 8,126 yards and 77 touchdowns at Barnstable High School before he enrolled at Worcester Academy last fall.

“He's a hard-worker and he wanted to play at the highest level he could,” Worcester Academy coach Tony Johnson said. “He ran the ball in my system more than he's used to, but he really improved his release. I think they have only four quarterbacks, so he'll get evaluated.”

Whipple's father Mark was the head coach at the University of Massachusetts when the Minutemen won the Division I-AA national championship in 1998. O'Brien was the inside linebackers coach at Brown in 1994, Mark Whipple's first year as the head coach there. He is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns.

Whipple led Salisbury to a 29-26 victory over a Jonathan DiBiaso-led Phillips Exeter team in the Jack Etter Bowl last November. DiBiaso, who played at Everett High School, will suit up for Dartmouth next season.

Crook ran for two TDs in a 27-21 loss to Salisbury last season.

BOWL SEASON
Everett offensive tackle John Montelus, the top-ranked recruit from Massachusetts in the Class of 2013, will begin practice for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Monday. The game will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio and can be seen on NBC.

Montelus has committed to Notre Dame.

Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. can be seen in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl one day earlier. The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl will be played Friday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and will be televised by the NFL Network.

Hurst, the No. 2 recruit in Massachusetts, has committed to Michigan.

Recruiting information about high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

New England Roundup: Connecticut

December, 16, 2011
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How good was Arkeel Newsome's sophomore season?

ConnecticutSo good that you could argue it's the best season ever turned in by a Connecticut high school running back.

Newsome, a sophomore at Ansonia High School, capped the season by running for 364 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries during a 38-0 triumph over Ledyard in Saturday's Class M championship game at Rentschler Field.

That performance gave Newsome the state record for yards rushing in a season (3,763). Former Ansonia running back Alex Thomas set the previous record (3,596) in 2007.

Newsome also completed the season as the leading rusher in the nation. Johnathan Gray of Aledo, Texas is second with 3,447 rushing yards. Gray has one game to play.

“We had high expectations, but it's kind of hard to expect a sophomore to lead the country in rushing,” Ansonia head coach Tom Brockett said. “He's such a dynamic player. Obviously college football is all about speed, and in terms of high school his speed is on another level.

“He's also dangerous in the kick-return game. I think he has a chance to be a big-time [college] running back.”

Newsome also set the state record for touchdowns scored in a season with 62 (58 rushing). He scored on runs of 13, 50 and 95 yards in the victory over Ledyard, which handed the Ansonia program its state-best 17th state championship.

Ansonia became the first team to complete a season with a 14-0 record. The Chargers outscored teams 624-154 this season.

Ledyard completed its season with an 11-2 record.

“We've already heard from BC, Connecticut, Miami and Iowa,” Brockett said. “People are just trying to get in on the process. I think college coaches will come after him as a running back, but he could definitely play on the other side of the ball. He'll have [scholarship] offers by the time he takes the field for his junior year.”

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New England Roundup: Connecticut

October, 13, 2010
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To those outside the Ansonia football program, the six new faces crouching on its offensive line meant lowered expectations.

For the man running behind them, it meant old times.

Wouldn’t you know it, it’s turned out the same way for the Chargers.

ConnecticutIn a season that could have marked a downturn for one of the state’s perennial state title contenders, Ansonia is rolling toward another league title and playoff berth, thanks in part to its young offensive line and bulked up senior running back Montrell Dobbs.

Some probably didn’t expect them to. The six juniors who make up the Chargers’ line — Matt Hall, Arek Kaszuba, Hakeem Martin, Dylan Vano, Tyler Williams and tight end Jake LaRovera — are all first-time starters. In fact, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Dobbs is the only returning senior starter the Chargers have.

No matter. At 4-0, Ansonia has already trounced defending Naugatuck Valley League champion, Holy Cross, 31-0, and is coming off a 46-6 victory over Wilby in which a banged-up Dobbs didn’t even play.

He still has 787 yards and eight touchdowns this season, carrying the ball a career-high 43 times for 387 yards and five touchdowns three weeks ago against Crosby.

“I’ve played with most of these guys [on the line] since I played Pop Warner,” Dobbs said. “They worked so hard in the offseason, and it’s paying off.”

Yet, that’s the culture around Ansonia, the king of sustained success in Connecticut high school football. The Chargers own 16 state titles (the last coming in 2007), have played for a state championship a record 22 times and have missed the playoffs just once (2005) in the last 13 seasons.

Expectations don’t change. Only the faces do. And the one that didn’t may be the biggest reason why.

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