Nic Esposito and Will Newman took far different paths to becoming the dominating defense players they were as seniors for the Staples football team. But on each Friday night, they lined up together and helped the Wreckers regain some of their defensive fortitude they had lost previously.

The duo will continue their journey together to the collegiate level for Bryant University. Esposito, a 6-4, 200 pound linebacker and Newman, a 6-2, 205 pound defensive end, will each try to make an impact for the FCS-member Bulldogs.

"One thing they both have in common is their very long they have long arms and legs, and they can run," said Wreckers coach Marce Petroccio. "They are hard workers and great role models; they love the game of football."

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On one hand, Esposito has played the game from a young age, while Newman has just one year of varsity experience.

"(Newman) has so much untapped potential," Petroccio said. "He's athletic, he's tough, he's fast; a lot of people missed the boat on him. He's got a very high upside and he'll get better."

Newman didn't find out of his acceptance until after the national signing period as the snow and administrative delays prevented him from signing along his fellow Division I student-athletes at Staples.

He was recruited by Petroccio to try out for the team as a sophomore, and Newman finally made the jump onto the gridiron as a senior after family hesitations. He had to learn the game from its most basic level, including stances, but got more comfortable as the season went along.

"It was really hard at first, technique is so hard to get down," Newman said. "(Not playing previously) had benefits; the bad (habits) people have; I didn't get that learning as a senior."

Newman admitted Esposito's commitment to Bryant made the decision far easier for himself.

"(Esposito) was a big reason why I started looking at Bryant," Newman said. "Once I looked into everything I realized that it was a great fit."

Esposito played in the PAL youth system and started for two-and-a-half years for the Wreckers. Esposito, who was named First Team All-FCIAC as a senior, also starred at center for the Staples basketball team.

"I'm excited to play D-I football at Bryant," Esposito said at National Signing Day last month. "I really liked the team and I see a great future ahead at Bryant. It's going to be a great experience."

Each had monster seasons statistically for the Wreckers (7-4) last fall. Esposito had 118 total tackles, five sacks and five fumble recoveries while Newman had 99 tackles and five sacks.

A good way to go out before reaching the next level.

Bryant, located 20 minutes from Providence has fielded a competitive team in the last several seasons. The Bulldogs, who compete in the Northeast Conference, went 8-3 last season. The two planned to room together as freshman, but the Bulldogs coaching staff decided it was best to get to know more players.

"It's unbelievable that it just happened that way," Petroccio said. "Bryant has been trying to get a kid from Staples as long as I can remember and for some reason it hasn't worked out, but to get two in the same year is tremendous. Hopefully this starts ... a pipeline; it's a very good school academically and on the football field."