2014 Elite Prospect Focus: Peyton Newell

Defensive end Peyton Newell, out of Hiawatha High School in Kansas, may just be a sophomore, but what he's done throughout the first two years of his high school career has certainly been impressive.

He's turned in a couple of productive seasons, ones that have already caught the eyes of some coaches around the country.

Racking in the Awards

Newell's freshman season, he amassed 44 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.

His production increased immensely during his sophomore year and, not surprisingly, as a result of that, the honors came in a hurry.

Newell was named an All-State Honorable Mention defensive lineman by both The Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital Journal. He was named an unanimous selection to the Big 7 All-League defensive line. Newell earned St. Joseph News-Press All-Area First Team honors on top of that.

Overall, he recorded 74 tackles, including 26 tackles for loss, six sacks, in addition to four forced fumbles, four blocked point after attempts and a blocked punt in 2012.

He even did it on the other side of the ball, catching 12 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

"Yeah, I was definitely [pleased]," Newell said. "All the hard work in the off-season definitely paid off there. I was definitely excited on the numbers I got this year. I had a good freshman season, but this year absolutely blew my freshman season away. So, I was definitely proud of the way I performed this year."

This all came as part of a 3-7 team, one that finished just 1-5 in league play.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Newell was the only sophomore to be mentioned to any of the major Kansas State awards.

"He did awesome," said his father, Frank. "You know, we were happy, too, with the all-state stuff because a lot of it's so political. And if you're sophomore, you're not usually going to get a sniff because it's so senior heavy."

He did, though.

The honors don't stop with those above, either.

He's also a Defensive Line MVP recipient of last year's Schuman National Underclassmen Combine Ultimate 100, winning the freshman Combine King and Strongest Man battles.

His combine and weight room numbers explain why he was able to do so.

Newell benches 325 pounds, squats 570, while hang cleaning 275 pounds. On top of that, he runs a 4.81 40-yard dash and was clocked at 4.49 in the pro agility at the NUC Ultimate 100 in Los Angeles, Calif. He posts a vertical of 32.5" as well as a 9-foot broad jump.

Modeling his game after an idol

It's always good when players model their games after another because it indirectly allows them to look at their own game by observing how another plays and see what they can incorporate and mold into theirs.

Newell claims there are a couple of guys that he uses to do just that.

In a true assessment of Newell's quality character himself, he explains one beastly defensive lineman specimen he really looked up to until getting slapped with some recent fines.

"I did idolize Suh, but ever since he started getting in trouble, I kinda backed off him," Newell said. "That's something I don't want to take after."

Indeed, the National Football League cracked down on Suh most recently for his famous stomp on Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith that resulted in a two-game suspension. Prior to that, the NFL fined Suh several other times, including when he aggressively threw Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton to the turf in a preseason game, took a pair of shots at Chicago quarterback Jake Cutler and twisted Cleveland's Jake Delhomme's face mask and shoved him to the ground.

So, Newell has another pair of guys he idolizes, a pair of guys on the same team that won the Super Bowl just less than a month ago.

"Jason Pierre-Paul from New York Giants," Newell said. "I definitely because a few of the KU coaches came up to me and all they talked about was my motor, my highlight tape on like not giving up on plays and running down a player. And I know he has quite a few plays where [he does that] and also Justin Tuck on the other side for the Giants. They don't quit until the whistle blows, so that's someone I look up to."

Both are nothing short of impressive candidates to model a game after, so there's nothing to question with Newell's judgment there.

Recruiting update

He may be just a sophomore, but he's gotten several invites to Junior Days events and taken full advantage of them.

Newell has spent time at Kansas and Oklahoma State's festivities so far and enjoyed both, describing in great detail the events of his first Junior Day experience.

"It went really well," Newell said. "I was pretty excited to get down there and meet [Kansas head coach] Charlie Weis and he gave about a 45 minute speech as soon as we got there on like what he was going to do to change the program. And I was definitely impressed. He's definitely one of those old-fashioned coaches, you know? And he definitely sticks to the old school and sticks to the rules and he definitely likes his way. So, I was definitely--that's something I'll look for. I definitely like it down there, and the attitude down there's done a 180.

"It's totally different, like, you know, KU wasn't winning their games, everybody was down when they're like 2-10 for the season. It definitely is a whole new attitude down there, and they're planning on getting to the Orange Bowl pretty soon. So, they're definitely confident, which I like. It was definitely a good trip."

Newell got to meet with defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and said he was with him for almost the entire day.

That allowed the two to form a bond that Newell will likely develop with several coaching staffs over the next couple years upon making his college decision.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder claimed Wyatt's the type of guy, just as position coaches probably are all around the country, where as soon as you walk into the room you can navigate to him because personalities click.

"We definitely have a good relationship," Newell said. "He actually has a son that's my age that is in Lawrence. So, that's something else that [bonds us]. So yeah, we're definitely close there."

Outside of just that visit, Newell has others on the radar, including Kansas State, where he'll attend Junior Days next weekend, and interest in schools like Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU and Tulsa.

Missouri actually extended him a Junior Day invitation, but Newell elected to visit Kansas due to its proximity.

Some others have got into the fray recently, too, as Newell pointed out.

"Yeah, I've gotten a few letters lately from Boston College," Newell said. "And Florida State has actually called the school, that I know of. I'm sure other schools, but Florida State's the main one. A guy called us the other day and said that he does some recruiting stuff for me, like he calls coaches and stuff and he said Mississippi State is showing up a lot of interest in me. So, it's definitely picked up in the past few weeks since we got my highlight tape out and it's definitely picked up."

Big summer ahead

One of the biggest stages of the recruiting process occurs before a prospect's junior year, and Newell and his father already have their plans lined out for it.

Last year, he caught heavy interest at OU's one-day elite prospect camp, when he was bumped up a class, as well as at the Illinois, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma State single-day showcases.

The emphasis this time around will be on getting around to some new places, including Notre Dame, among others, Newell said.

His father said he'll lay out a number of schools and have Newell select four or five for which to attend the one-day camps.

They expect to make it to some national events as well, including the Nike Football Training Camp in Champaign, Ill., and the National Underclassman Combine.

"This is probably gonna be my biggest summer as far as recruiting and we're gonna go early expanding on the college camps we're going to and we're also going to the Nike camp," Newell said.

The goals for this summer, well, they're really quite simple.

Polishing his game up is an obvious one, but there's more than just that.

"I want him to start getting, I want him to find more interest in places beyond the football," Frank said. "You know what I mean, we've got him to places and football is football. I think he understands that's his ticket, but you know it's kinda cliche, but it's the truth. The education is what's important."

Newell certainly doesn't struggle there.

He reports a 3.95 GPA and is set to take his ACT this spring, so that's on the docket this off-season as well.

"As a parent, that's the most important [thing] to me," Frank said. "So, maybe try to get in more of the environments, to more of the schools when we go to these camps and just see if any of them click, you know, if he gets that feeling like, ‘Wow, I'd really like to do this; you know, I think this is the place for me.' So, maybe a little bit more of that."

Because it's in Champaign, the Nike trip will allow Newell to, in essence, kill two birds with one stone by visiting the University of Illinois' campus while participating in the event.

He also expects to get around to some other destinations and see if any may be an early fit.

As for polishing up his game, there are several areas he'd like to work on.

One of those is speed, acceleration and getting faster. Newell said he's also focused on exploding off the line of scrimmage and technique.

So, the focus this summer: get to some new places and improve whatever deficiencies he may have in his game.

"We're gonna try to expand a little bit," Newell said. "We'll probably do National Underclassman again just because his numbers are so good and they did a good job of verifying it. And a lot of it, you know, because it gets expensive. You know, you're traveling everywhere, you're running out of time, you want him to still kind of be a kid."

Looking on down the line

At some point, Newell will have to make a college decision but even after this summer and next season, there are still a number of other things that must transpire first.

Several programs will likely offer him.

He'll get to take more visits and then official visits.

He'll meet coaching staffs at selective schools, which will, in turn, help him make his decision.

But his father said the long term focus is still on something that's in the short term focus: exposure.

How will they get that? By attending even more showcase events following the 2012 season.

"You know, he's already got an invite to the Army All-American Combine that's around Christmas," Frank said. "He's already got that, which is huge. So, we may try to do one more around that, you know, like the Under Armour or the Semper Fidelis or something around Christmas, which is more of the combines to lead up to one of the games in two years. So, that's what we're kind of focusing on."

Without a doubt, Newell's recruitment figures to ramp up in the upcoming days and he'll be one to keep an eye on.

Whether a Sooner fan, a Jayhawk fan, a Wildcat or a Cowboy fan, or one of another on his schools of interest list, the time will come not too long from now when he's one to really watch.

Stay tuned.

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