Newton, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound inside linebacker at Parkway North High School in suburban St. Louis, recently visited Missouri for its Junior Day and will make trips to see two Big Ten Conference schools soon. The Mizzou trip, he said, was “pretty neat.”
“I really enjoyed it,” Newton said. “It was well worth the trip to Columbia. It was a good time. I got to really, hands on, see it. I’ve been up there for a camp and it was just go to stadium and do stuff there. But it was cool getting to see the locker room, the weight room and the academic side of it.”
The highlight of the day?
“I liked most that they have the highest graduation rate in the SEC,” Newton said. “That’s what they impressed upon us. They mainly impressed upon us the academics — what Mizzou can do for you as a school and not what Mizzou can do for you as a football program. Which was nice.”
There was also another moment that stood out.
When it came time to don a Tigers jersey for a photo opp, Newton opted for a different number than the No. 33 he wears for the Parkway North Vikings.
“They did have 1 through 99 and I had 33 in my hands and I didn’t know if they would have 25,” Newton said. “I just asked because being from Parkway North that’s pretty special. They had 25 and I was like, I can’t not take a picture in it. I have to.”
The No. 25 was worn at Missouri by former Parkway North standout Aaron O’Neal, who died following a preseason workout in 2005. The Tigers have honored O’Neal and his legacy throughout the years and his No. 25 is now worn by Donavin Newsom, another Parkway North product who plays linebacker for the Tigers.
“That was cool,” Newton said of being able to wear the number. “It was special.”
As part of his trip to Columbia, Newton also got to speak with assistant coach Cornell Ford, the Tigers’ primary recruiter for the St. Louis area, and heard that a scholarship offer may be in his future.
“Coach Ford said that I’m very close to receiving that offer,” Newton said. “It was just that they had a question about my speed. They want to get me up in the spring, get to see practice and everything and then get back up for camp in the summer. Coach Ford made it seem like the opportunity is there; it’s just I have to go earn it.”
The knock on Newton is that he needs to improve his speed.
“I’m in the 4.7, 4.8 (40-yard dash) range and if I can get a consistent 4.6, 4.5, I think that would definitely be beneficial, but I think it’s just sideline to sideline, stuff like that. The closing speed,” Newton said. “I do think that I am quick. My numbers in the pro agility, the L-cone, I think those are pretty decent. It’s just that tenth of a second on the 40 that’s the difference. I’m working towards that.”
Newton is big and strong and productive on the field, so if he can improve his speed he will likely see his recruiting attention skyrocket. That’s something he’ll certainly work towards over the next few months of the offseason.
Still, Newton will definitely play college football somewhere. He already has three scholarship offers in hand and will receive more.
He has two more Junior Day trips planned for the next two weekends to a pair of Big Ten Conference schools.