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Ansonia's Newsome commits to play for UConn

Updated 11:35 am, Thursday, July 11, 2013

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  • Highlights from boys football action between Derby and Ansonia in Derby, Conn. on Friday September 30, 2011. Ansonia's #2 Arkeel Newsome, left, avoids Derby's #1 Tim Adanti. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
    Highlights from boys football action between Derby and Ansonia in Derby, Conn. on Friday September 30, 2011. Ansonia's #2 Arkeel Newsome, left, avoids Derby's #1 Tim Adanti. Photo: Christian Abraham

 

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UConn offered him a scholarship early and didn't even bat an eye toward any other local running back prospects.

Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome certainly recognized the UConn football coaching staff's intense desire to have him on their roster come 2014.

And so he's rewarded them.

Newsome, one of the most prolific runners in Connecticut football history, verbally committed to play for the Huskies.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior back, who has rushed for 6,818 yards and scored a state-record 118 touchdowns in three years as a starter, informed UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni of his decision on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's a relief," Newsome said. "Now I can focus on my senior year and my academics."

UConn took an early interest and offered Newsome after his sterling sophomore season, in which he ran for 3,763 yards and 58 touchdowns and was one of the top five backs in the nation. From there, Newsome said, the coaching staff kept pushing to put him in a UConn uniform.

Newsome has played at Rentschler Field twice while leading the Chargers to consecutive, 14-0 Class S championships. He took his latest visit to Storrs in June.

"They were real focused on me, trying to get me to commit there," said Newsome, who said he also had offers from UMass and Syracuse and continued interest from about a dozen other schools. "They were saying they wanted me to be their main guy."

The chance to play close to home, where his family could easily attend games, also factored heavily into the decision, Newsome said.

"Playing for my home state, it'll be a good feeling," said Newsome, who grew up both a UConn and Florida fan. "It's close and my family can come down and see me any time at home games."

Newsome said Pasqualoni was pleased with the commitment, which won't be binding until National Signing Day in February.

"Coach (Pasqualoni) told me to now start focusing on my academics, getting my GPA and SAT scores up," Newsome said.

As a junior, he ran for 2,245 yards and 38 touchdowns during a season in which he missed several games due to an ankle injury.

He is on pace to break the state career records for rushing yards and scoring. Former Ansonia RB Alex Thomas, who starred at Yale, is the state record holder with 8,279 yards and 747 points. Newsome needs 1,462 yards to catch Thomas.

Ansonia has gone 28-0 and won two consecutive state championships over the last two seasons with Newsome as its featured back.

He was the 2012 Connecticut Post Athlete of the Year, a two-time All-Hearst Connecticut and All-Connecticut Walter Camp team selection.

"Obviously it's a great thing for Arkeel and his family," Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. "From a UConn standpoint, any time you can land the best player in the state of Connecticut, it's a great thing for the University."

Newsome is expected to join the Husky roster in what should be the final year of eligibility for current starter Lyle McCombs. Built much like Newsome, the 5-8, 170-pound McCombs has rushed for 2,011 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons as the starter. He's received the majority of the carries for the past two years, although dynamic sophomore Joe Williams figures to add another dimension this fall.

Grind-it-out sophomore Max DeLorenzo and true freshman Josh Marriner -- a 2,000-yard rusher as a high school senior in Virginia -- may emerge down the line.

Newsome, the first running back in UConn's 2014 recruiting class, is the second consecutive featured back at Ansonia to commit to the Huskies. Montrell Dobbs, his freshman year teammate, originally picked UConn in 2011, but later attended Milford Academy and switched to Temple. Dobbs is no longer enrolled there.

sbowley@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/spbowley. Kevin Duffy contributed to this story.