He's also another example of an absolute gem that nearby ACC and SEC schools didn't mine hard enough for. But the Catamounts sure did. They sure saw something special when they held a Fayetteville (N.C.) area regional 'satellite' camp — which was allowed several years ago by the NCAA.
Now Newsome is leading the FCS nation in rushing (557 yards and 7 TDs in four games) and he has rushed for 100-plus yards in his last three games against SEC teams (Tennessee and Texas A&M in 2015, South Carolina last year).
So what makes this guy tick? One of the most colorful coaches in the FCS, Western Carolina's Mark Speir, will give you a feel for his star running back.
"Obviously Detrez wants to play in the NFL like any player would, but he has kept all of that in perspective," Speir told HERO Sports on Monday. "This preseason, he ran every single rep like he was a freshman or a sophomore. He isn't one of those guys who thinks, 'hey, I'm a star and don't have to do this'. When we were playing Davidson earlier, we were up a good bit and I had to get the trainer to take his helmet away from him so he wouldn't sneak out there any more. He just loves to play the game. He wants our team to win."
Newsome is attracting NFL scouts, thanks to the senior's impressive college resume (3,166 career rushing yards, 44 total TDs), his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (91 career receptions, 835 yards, 7 TDs) and his ability to return kicks (24-yard career return average, 2 TDs).
He is one of those multi-dimensional backs that NFL teams salivate over, and Speir estimates that 25 of the 32 teams have come by to check he and his teammates out. Also, a bonus: retired former NFL general manager Jerry Angelo, who was once in charge with the Tampa Bay Bucs and later the Chicago Bears, has a nearby mountain home and comes to practice sometimes. He's impressed with Newsome, too.
Newsome is ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as No. 31 in the 2018 running back draft class for next spring, and he's been trending upwards for months as most FCS prospects tend to do. On average the past five years, 20 running backs have been drafted and another 20-plus sign free agent contracts. North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen was in a similar situation last year and ended up being drafted and is in the backfield for the Chicago Bears right now.
But before we get too caught up with the NFL potential for Newsome and obviously a very supportive Western Carolina program, there's a big one facing the Catamounts this weekend — Chattanooga. Though Chattanooga got off to a 1-3 start, the losses were to teams like FCS power Jacksonville State, budding OVC power UT Martin and the SEC's LSU … and the win? A blowout over the Southern Conference's VMI.
The Catamounts are playing good ball right now, but they'd obviously never take a game at Chattanooga lightly. After the Mocs, currently undefeated Citadel, tough as nails Wofford and the rest of the SoCon lies in waiting.
"Chatt is the only school that we haven't beaten since I've been in the conference," Newsome told HERO Sports. "Not only that, this is another key game in the conference and of course the next game is always the most important game. They've had a tough schedule so I know they'll come into this game with their heads on fire."
But Western Carolina will be ready with Newsome clicking on offense and sophomore quarterback Tyrie Adams also being an FCS national Top 10 leader in passing (1,080 yards in four games). The team is balanced offensively and makes big plays on defense, like last week's goal-line stand in the 4th quarter against 2016 playoff team Samford and its stellar quarterback Devlin Hodges.
Preseason All-SoCon offensive lineman Nathan Dalton (6-7/315) is soaking it all in, and admits he has a pretty nice view of a lot of the action — after, of course, he seals the block that makes it happen.
"I feel like Detrez being as talented as he is and being able to run the ball like he has, and with how hard he works, it's inspired us all to work harder," Dalton told HERO Sports. "With us being O-linemen, we take pride in helping (Newsome being the nation's leading rusher). If you want somebody to look up to, even me as a junior, but definitely the freshmen? All they have to do is look at him."
It's true … a lot of people are looking up at Newsome, including the entire FCS in terms of the rushing yardage statistics list. In fact, some running backs around the country might want to borrow some binoculars.
FCS NATIONAL RUSHING LEADERS – THROUGH WEEK FOUR
|1||Detrez Newsome||Western Carolina||557|
|2||Ladarius Galloway||UT Martin||514|
|8||Marquell Cartwright||North Carolina A&T||421|
|10||Lance Dunn||North Dakota State||401|