After three years as a linebacker Clyde Newton is getting the chance to play running back, which is the position he grew up playing. The Indiana senior met with the media recently and talked about why he is so excited to be back on the offensive side of the ball.
Even though he has been away from the running back position for three years Newton said it did not take long for him to feel right at home with the ball in his hands.
“It has gone well, but that is like my natural position,” he said about moving to running back. “I was a running back all my life before I came to Indiana, and then I switched to defense and got three years of linebacker under my belt. Playing there gave me more of a tough mind because I you’re hitting people all the time. When I first went over I was a little bit rusty, but it was all natural for me going back.”
Newton was a linebacker back in the spring, but soon after spring ball ended he sat down with head coach Kevin Wilson and asked for the opportunity to be a running back.
“I approached Coach Wilson after spring ball, and I also talked to Coach (Deland) McCullough), and they had a good feeling about it,” Newton said. “I felt like I could contribute big on the offense. We talked about it and they gave me the opportunity and I think I’ve been doing well with it.”
Coach Wilson said he did not have a problem with the request but before he approved it he wanted to make sure the defensive coaches were okay with it.
“Clyde wanted to do it,” Wilson said about Newton going to running back. “He came to us. First thing I said we got to talk to defensive coaches. I thought with linebacker depth, we'd need him at linebacker. I thought it might be hurting the team, him not being on defense. But because we're starting on nickel, he was kind of odd man out. He went back to play inside linebacker where we've got a lot of seniors and veterans. So he's like third there.”
Coach Wilson believes Newton will be a factor for the IU offense this fall, and he thinks Newton has a chance to be a running back at the next level.
“He was a great high school runner,” Wilson said about Newton. “He's got a body. If he does well enough, he's got a chance to be in a pro camp, because no one plays a fullback. He's 230-couple pounds. He could be 240, 242. One of the strongest guys on our team…425 bench…big hands, catches it well. He's been very good at running back, he's natural.”
The talented Hoosier has also made a very good impression on his new position coach in the short time he has been at running back.
“Clyde is coming on strong and showing himself to be reliable,” McCullough said about Newton. “He is probably one of our better pass protectors. He is a big, strong guy with strong hands. He can catch the ball and run with velocity. He is a willing blocker. In some of our sets we may do two backs with a guy who needs to block so I’m excited about him.”
Newton said the most difficult part of being on offense is dealing with all the defensive players trying to take the ball away from him.
“The defense rips at the ball a lot which is different from high school,” he said. “I had to make sure I had my handle right on the ball and hold that ball tight all the time because they are always ripping at it.”
The experience that Newton got playing on defense for three years is something he believes will serve him well not that he is on the other side of the ball.
“I know what defensive guys are thinking and I know how they operate,” he said. “I know if you just hit them and hit them in their mouth they’re not going to take that for four quarters straight, and that is kind of my running style. It helps a little bit, but at the end of the day you’ve got to hit people and you’ve got to run hard.”
Newton is not only the newcomer for the Hoosiers at running back. He joins freshman Tyler Natee and Cole Gest, two guys he says have bright futures at Indiana.
“We call Natee Big Bacon,” Newton said. “That is my main bro. We are both big backs and we just run through people, but he can also move. He is about 280 and he can move. People are going to be surprised to see that big refrigerator move like that. He is just a good guy. Cole Gest is fast, real fast. They are going to do some damage in the Big Ten.”
Newton has really enjoyed getting to work with Coach McCullough, and he sees the IU assistant as someone who has already had a big impact on his life on and off the field.
“That is a great dude right there,” Newton said about Coach McCullough. “He is a good friend and a good role model and father figure for someone who hasn’t had one. Just an all-around good person who is an honest guy that will be straight up with you. He is someone that you would want as a coach.”
The Florida native said he is very excited for Indiana’s opening game at FIU because it is close to his hometown, and he expects to have a lot of family in the stands.
“It means a lot to play there,” he said about the FIU game. “I’ve got like 30 people coming to the game. I get to see them and I get to see my beautiful daughter. I am just excited for it, to get back home and play in front of my family.”