Catamounts’ Newsome an all-around force

(STATS) – The top all-around offensive player in the FCS broke off an 84-yard touchdown run last week. He scored on 78- and 88-yard runs the week before. He’s found the end zone 42 times in his career and, oh, yes, he’s completed one career pass attempt – a 75-yard touchdown two years ago.

But Western Carolina coach Mark Speir says senior Detrez Newsome’s greatness isn’t evident on one particular play, that it shines in the running back/kick returner’s consistency and production over time.

That’s why the Catamounts keep getting Newsome the ball.

He’s at it again this season, ranking first in the FCS in all-purpose yards per game after his first three games. He was No. 1 as a junior last season. He was sixth as a sophomore in 2015. It almost makes his No. 64 ranking as a freshman sound pedestrian, but he was third among rookies in 2014.

Knowing that Speir feels greatness comes through consistency, Newsome has lived up to the vow that he made to his coach in 2014 when he arrived at Western Carolina, located in the tiny mountain town of Cullowhee, North Carolina, across the state from his even smaller hometown of Raeford, near Fayetteville.

“He knows my top ability, he knows what I can do,” Newsome said. “I want to give him my all, and I’ve told him that since day one.”

Newsome has played a major part of the Catamounts’ turnaround under Speir, their sixth-year coach. He helped fuel their seven-win seasons in 2014 and ’15, and after they dropped to 2-9 last year, they’re 2-1 this season with a big game upcoming Saturday as they host 18th-ranked Samford in their Southern Conference opener.

“The first two years, I could say that we were more collective as a family on and off the field,” Newsome said. “I would say last year, we kind of got away from it. This year, we’re kind of getting back to it.”

That Newsome will collect over 100 all-purpose yards against Samford is basically a certainty. He’s done so in 17 straight games, surpassing 6,000 for his career in last week’s win over Gardner-Webb.

He’s gone over 300 all-purpose yards in three of the Catamounts’ last seven games. It includes a school-record 288 rushing yards against Davidson two weeks ago, which bettered his previous mark of 277 yards against Chattanooga last Oct. 28 – which he considers to be his best career game. Oh yes, in between he went for a school-record 365 all-purpose yards against the University of South Carolina to close last season.

“It feels great to know that I rank No. 1 in all-purpose in the whole (FCS),” Newsome said. “But I won’t the accolades get in the way of my game.”

Newsome runs hard in a 5-foot-10, 210-pound frame. He has a terrific jump-cut move that his 3 1/2-year-old son, Detrez Jr., who lives in Raeford with his mother, Detrez Sr.’s girlfriend Telisha Taylor-McCray, tries to emulate.

Newsome’s 6,084 career all-purpose yards breaks down to 3,089 rushing (33 touchdowns), 814 receiving (seven) and 2,181 kick returns (two). This season, he leads the FCS with 217 all-purpose yards per game and is second with 153.7 rushing yards per game, averaging a first down each carry on a 10.2-yard clip.

After Newsome set the conference’s single-season record with 2,343 all-purpose yards last year, former VMI running back Thomas Haskins’ career mark of 7,355 is well within reach. Newsome will tie Haskins with another 1,271 yards, and Western Carolina has nine more games in its 12-game schedule.

The marketing major credits the blocking of his team’s improved offensive linemen, whom he reminds each Friday heading into a game that they all have each other’s back.

The Catamounts also feature a dynamic quarterback in sophomore Tyree Adams. The threat of Adams taking off with the ball or throwing to wide receiver Terryon Robinson, also opens up space for Newsome, and vice versa.

“If everybody is doing their job and everybody is out there having fun together,” Newsome said, “from 1 to 11, everybody’s connected, everybody’s just feeding off each other’s energy – offense, defense, special teams.”

The most positive energy radiates off Detrez Newsome.