Maryland secured a commitment from athlete Dazz Newsome (Hampton, Va.) Oct. 9, and afterwards we spoke to his defensive backs coach, Woodrow Wilson, to gain more insight into the 5-foot-10, 170-pounder.
Our question-and-answer session with Wilson is below:
Terrapin Times: Coach, first of all, as his position coach, can you give Terps fans an idea what Dazz brings to the table? He’s being brought in as an athlete, but projects to cornerback…
Woodrow Wilson: Dazz, probably of all the kids I’ve seen around here, he’ll probably be ready to play as soon as he gets to University of Maryland. He can play either corner or safety, but I feel his better position will be corner. He’s got a a good football IQ, exceptional quickness, and decent speed right now, but he will get faster once he gets in the weight room; does squats; and gets his upper-body built up. He’ll work with my individually as far as [getting his speed up] after the season is over, and he’ll probably run track also.
But, like I said, as far as the kids we have right now, even the kid from here that’s supposed to be going to Alabama, Dazz is most ready to play as a freshman.
TT: Can you give us an idea what he technically does well?
WW: Basically, he does about everything well. He has good hand-eye coordination, he’s got good ball skills, he has exceptional quickness, he anticipates well, he has good change-of-direction, good hips and he’ll be good in man-to-man. He’s already very good in zone. All the things a good corner needs, he has those ingredients.
TT: And what would you say are the areas Dazz needs to improve on?
WW: We don’t run a lot of man-to-man, and most colleges do, so that has to be a focus. Now, we put him on the best receiver from the other team, and he incorporates his man skills and puts zone concepts into it. What I mean by that is, when you’re playing man to man, you’re looking into the receivers’ eyes, and when he looks back for the ball, [the corner] looks back without turning. That way you’ll still be engaged with your man and you’ll see the ball quicker than if you turned the other way. You don’t lose sight of the ball and the man, and that’s something he’ll have to work on -- and we will. Also, he needs to get a little stronger and a little faster.
TT: Based off Dazz’ highlights, he looks like someone that should have gotten at least a few power-five offers. What were some of the reasons schools like Va Tech, UNC and others didn’t pull the trigger?
WW: Basically it was the size. I played at NC State and I talked to them quite a bit. They were concerned about his height and didn’t think he was tall enough. I said it’s all about an individual making plays. You can have a guy who is 6-1, 6-2, but if he can’t make plays, what’s the sense of having him? When you have a guy 5-10, 5-11 who can make plays, and is an exceptional returner, why not take a chance?
But that was the main knock on Dazz. That’s probably why some of the bigger schools didn’t go after him, but that’s going to be their mistake. These other schools are going to find out they dropped the ball on this one.
TT: I got the sense from talking to Dazz he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder because of the slights. I know he wanted that Virginia Tech offer with his brother going there and his dad having played there.
WW: I think it does [give him a chip], and that’s a good thing. But I don’t think he’d have went to Tech even if they made the offer. I think deep down he really liked NC State and UNC. If they would have made an offer, he might have thought about going there. But Maryland made him the offer first, he went up there [Oct. 9], and they convinced him.
TT: Did you get the feeling Dazz was going to commit after he saw Maryland? I thought there was a pretty good chance he would after talking to him.
WW: Yes, that was the feeling. He told me he was going to take his trip, and then decide how he felt after the visit. He wanted to see how he fit into the defense and if he could play right away there, and then he would make his choice.
I’m not sure exactly what the Maryland coaches said to convince him, but I guess Dazz heard what he needed to hear and I know he likes the idea of playing in the Big Ten. It doesn’t get too much better than that unless you’re playing in the SEC.
TT: What kind of a guy is Dazz? What’s he like in the locker room around his teammates?
WW: He’s still young; he needs to grow up a little bit. But his dad will see to that, and I'll do my best too (laughs). He likes to kid around a lot, but I think he’ll grow up before he gets to Maryland.
On the field, he’s kind of low-key. He’s not a rah-rah guy. He leads by example, and does a good job of that.
TT: I know you’re a defensive guy, Coach, but Dazz is going to get a chance to play offense and special teams at Maryland. Can you give some insight into what he brings in those areas?
WW: He’s going to be a great return man. He has exceptional quickness, and he can make the first guy miss. As a receiver, he has great hands, great hand-eye coordination, he catches the ball well, and he’s a threat after the catch with his shiftiness. But he needs to work on route running and things like that, since we don’t throw the ball a whole lot here. But he can be just as good on offense as he could be on defense.
TT: Did Dazz come into Hampton already polished in a way from having an older brother who played at a high level and a dad who played in the NFL?
WW: I saw Dazz in eighth grade. Eighth graders aren’t allowed to play [with the high school team], but they can work out. At the time, Dazz’ brother was a senior, and you could see then that Dazz was going to be something special too. He just had that presence about him.
Hands down, and I’m not saying this because I coach him, he’s the best player in our district, and that includes the kid who is supposed to be going to Alabama. There’s no question.
TT: Last question, Coach. I know Coach Mike London is a big presence down there in Hampton Roads. What’s the impression of him down there, and how important was it for him to now get a kid from there to go to Maryland?
WW: A lot of coaches around here speak very highly of him. I don’t know him as well per se, but I know he went to Bethel High and he played with a couple of our coaches at Richmond. He seems like a very, very nice guy and very knowledgeable.
But, I’ll tell you, when he was down here watching Dazz, we were playing [Newsome] more at safety, because we want to be strong up the middle. Not too many high school teams throw at the corners, especially deep. They mainly try to hurt you down the seam, so that’s why we put Dazz there. But Coach London could see, even at safety, that Dazz had the skills to play corner. [London] is a very knowledgeable coach and he definitely knows what he’s looking at.