Player capsule: Ryan Newsome
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 181 pounds
2016 season quick review: Newsome arrived at Arizona State in the fall of 2016 after electing to transfer out of the Texas Longhorns' program. The Aledo, Texas native spent the 2016 season on the Sun Devils' scout team offense, where he won the program's 'Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year' Award. A former four-star prospect and one of the most highly coveted slot receiver recruits in the country for the Class of 2015, Newsome will attempt to climb up the ASU depth chart after sitting out last season.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Newsome's arrival at ASU last fall coincided with the Sun Devils' decision to hire Jay Norvell, Newsome's position coach at Texas, as the program's wide receivers' coach. After transferring away from Texas after the 2015 season, Newsome followed Norvell to Tempe, Arizona knowing he would have to wait another full season before he would have the opportunity to see the field.
Though Newsome spent his first two seasons in college practicing under Norvell's tutelage, Nevada's hiring of Norvell as the Wolfpack's head coach this offseason prevented Newsome from being able to take the field under him at ASU. Nevertheless, Newsome has regrouped and expressed his excitement about working under new ASU wide receivers' coach Rob Likens, who attempted to recruit him to Cal when Likens was the receivers' coach under Sonny Dykes.
Armed with plenty of speed, short area quickness and elusiveness, Newsome is a prototypical slot receiver who possesses the traditional traits closely associated with home run threats. Despite his slight build at 5-foot-8, Newsome is a challenge for opposing defenders because he's quick enough to create separation at the line of scrimmage and shifty enough to break tackles in the open field.
During the first half of the spring, Newsome worked at the H-receiver (slot) position for ASU, a spot often occupied over the past two seasons by Tim White, who like Newsome, was one of the best pure athletes on the Sun Devils' roster. Newsome has the chance to thrive in the slot because of the creative ways ASU can put the ball in his hands and allow him to stress defenders.
In the second half of spring ball, we saw Newsome play on the outside as well which offered ASU's coaching staff the chance to see how his speed and route running skills would translate to other positions.
Newsome presents ASU with plenty of value because he's a relatively efficient route runner who can stretch defenses vertically, but he also gives the Sun Devils the opportunity to use him in option routes where Newsome can read a defender's alignment and cut based on the coverage shell.
For Newsome to thrive in new offensive coordinator Billy Napier's scheme, he'll need to improve the consistency with which he plays and take his focus up a notch when he's catching passes, especially in traffic. This spring, Newsome dropped a number of easily catchable passes, and he'll need to do a better job showing he can extend down to haul in lower throws, which is something he struggled with on the practice field.
To become a more complete player, Newsome will also need to demonstrate he's capable of executing some of the perimeter blocks that receivers will be required to take on in Napier's scheme.
Additionally, Newsome will need to work on creating separation with his hands in press coverage, because even though he's elusive, he doesn't have the same type of sudden quickness fellow transfer John Humphrey Jr. possesses that allows Humphrey to neutralize press coverage at the line of scrimmage.
Ultimately, Newsome has a high ceiling thanks to his shiftiness and speed, and as long as he continues to progress under Likens, Newsome should earn plenty of opportunities with the ball in his hands this fall.
Projected depth chart status: With junior receiver Jalen Harvey transitioning from his role as a Z-receiver to the slot this spring, Newsome ran with ASU's second-team offense as the backup H-receiver to Harvey before the Sun Devils' coaches allowed him to work at the Z-position as well. Regardless of where he fits into ASU's scheme, expect Newsome to be one of the top four-to-five receivers in ASU's rotation this fall, and if Newsome sticks in the slot, look for the Sun Devils to rotate Harvey and Newsome frequently because they're complementary players who provide the offense with different skills and abilities in that role.
Because Newsome and Harvey have both have experience on the perimeter, ASU may also look at using Harvey and Newsome on the field at the same time in certain situations, which would allow Newsome's rep count to increase and for ASU to use him in a variety of different alignments. Even though Newsome may not find himself in a starting role this fall, the Sun Devils will definitely look to take advantage of his speed and explosiveness on screens, bubble patterns, hot routes, handoffs and other manners that get the ball in his hands quickly and allow Newsome to create.