Jon Newton is a football player looking for a second chance. He came to UC in 2003 and impressed the coaches enough to see action at defensive tackle in the opener against East Carolina, but a knee injury ended his season and made him a medical redshirt. In 2004, Jon saw very little action as the new coaching staff moved the Roger Bacon graduate to the offensive side of the ball for spring practice and most of the season before returning him to defense late in the year. That return to defense is now starting to pay dividends for all concerned since Jon presently is running with the #1 unit at defensive tackle. Jon is happy to be back at the position he loves. "Playing offense was okay, but defense is where my heart is."
Despite being only a redshirt sophomore, Jon has been one of the more vocal leaders of the defensive line this summer. He and Adam Roberts often lead the others from drill to drill, but Jon sees many leaders in the group. "I've tried to be more vocal, but I don't think I'm any different than the other veterans like Donald Germany, Adam Roberts, Jamie Wimmer, and D'arrell Brown." His position coach, Coach Gill, has also noticed a change in Jon. He feels Jon is simply more confident this year.
Even though Jon is currently leading the field for a starting spot in the opener against Eastern Michigan, he recognizes that the young competition is tough. "The young guys are doing real well. They're picking things up as we go."
Jon's career at UC has not been easy. First there was the knee injury and then the coaching change. No player can be totally happy when the staff that recruited him gets fired, but Jon has been able to see the silver lining. "It really wasn't as difficult for me as it could have been. Coach Gill was my coach with the old staff, and he's my coach now." Jon could also complain about losing almost an entire season when the new staff moved him to the offensive line, but he sees the situation much differently. "I'm a Bearcat. I was a Bearcat with the old staff, and I'm a Bearcat now. That‘s what‘s important."
The fact that the media has picked this team to finish at the bottom of the Big East brought a smile to Jon's face. "That's fine with me. I actually like it."
It's easy to like Jon Newton. He's articulate, polite and a hard worker. After a hot practice, he politely agreed to this interview instead of cooling off with teammates in a tub of ice water. He has volunteered his time at youth camps and has coached grade school football. Jon Newton is simply a really good guy, who has earned a second chance. He's overcome injury and a coaching change, and instead of complaining, he's seized another opportunity to show who and what he is. Apparently, Coach Dantonio and his staff like what they see.