By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Ryan Newsome couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit Oxford and Ole Miss for the first time.
Newsome, the speedy wideout from Aledo, Texas, was one of the many standout prospects who watched the Rebels upset Alabama at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Oct. 4. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound slot receiver, who is also a skilled punt and kick returner, had heard nothing but good things about Oxford before making his trip, and the very festive atmosphere made everything else that much better.
“It was a good. Both teams brought a lot to the table,” Newsome said. “Ole Miss played great though. I’m glad they pulled the win out. I was pretty excited by what I saw. It was cool to see the Grove like that.”
While Newsome had yet to make an appearance on campus, Ole Miss coaches have been charting his path on the field since he was a sophomore and then offered him a scholarship when he was a junior. His feel on how the program is coming together under head coach Hugh Freeze is favorable, and he likes the offense.
“They’re a really good school, I like the environment,” Newsome said. “I like Coach Freeze and what he represents as far as spiritual standpoint. That’s what got me attracted to him in the first place, just the spiritual connection I had with him. He’s a great guy. He’s somebody I want to play for and what he represents. The team, they play as a unit, and they don’t just rely on one person to get it done.”
Linebackers coach Tom Allen is Newsome’s direct recruiter, but he is constant contact with several members of the staff, including wide receivers coach Grant Heard, who is also a native of Texas.
“I like what the staff is doing and they definitely held my attention with them being as faith based as they are,” Newsome said. “I really hear from everybody on the staff, but Coach Allen the most. He’s a great guy. They go all in to get me, which is pretty cool.”
Speed to burn
There are some that have compared Newsome to former Ole Miss standout Dexter McCluster. He is also compared to Tavon Austin, a former star at West Virginia who now plays for the St. Louis Rams.
“I get that the most because I like to make a lot of things happen, that guy that when you put the ball in his hands, a lot of special things can happen,” Newsome said. “I’m also a guy that can take the top off of the defense. I run good routes, and that’s something I’ve been working on a long time now.”
Newsome is a specialist in the return game. He has the state high school record for most touchdowns on punt returns in a season. He is also currently tied for the most punt returns for a touchdown in the nation.
Ole Miss would like to utilize Newsome in the slot and also have him return kicks and punts in the future.
“They said the don’t have that right now and I actually saw first hand how the team is,” Newsome said. “They have a lot of big guys. They’re playing Markell Pack in the slot and Cody Core, but those are perimeter guys that go to the outside. So they need a guy like me inside to make things happen.”
A decision on where he will sign will come after the football season concludes, Newsome said. He added that he came on his official visit to Ole Miss by himself, and that he would like to return with his parents in the near future.
“Coach Freeze was a little worried that I came alone; he was wondering just how interested I was because I didn’t come with my family,” Newsome said. “He’s big on family and he wanted them to know that if I came there, that I was going to be in good hands. I did tell my family how much I liked Oxford, so I want to come back.”
Tennessee, UCLA, Texas and Oklahoma are the other schools that also have a chance to land Newsome. He will visit Tennessee on Oct. 25. He will then visit UCLA on Nov. 1 when the Bruins host Arizona. On Nov. 8, when the Sooners host Baylor, Newsome will be in attendance. The last two visits should involve teams all in the national rankings.
“I’m on the back stretch of (recruiting), so I said why not schedule the best games?” Newsome said. “It’s a blessing. You have to take advantage of it.”
Newsome is ranked as the nation’s 42nd best wide receiver by Rivals.com, and the No. 41 overall players in the state of Texas.