This wasn’t how it was supposed to be for Kevin Newsome.
Once the heir apparent to Penn State’s starting quarterback job upon Daryll Clark’s graduation, Newsome is now in the City of Brotherly Love, trying to grasp a new offense at Temple. He may even be trying out a new position, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier in the week Newsome had asked Temple’s coaching staff to play wide receiver and lined up there at practice on Wednesday.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Portsmouth, Va. native since he arrived at Penn State a little more than three years ago. And for the first time in nearly two years, he’ll be back on the Beaver Stadium sidelines Saturday as the Owls make their fifth visit to Penn State in the last seven seasons.
Though he went from the leading candidate to be the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback to the third option behind a true freshman and a walk-on, Newsome’s father, Kevin Sr., said there are no hard feelings between his son and Penn State or its former coaching staff.
Newsome respectfully declined interviews this week.
“Kevin enjoyed being there. Kevin had the utmost respect for the coaching staff and everybody,” Kevin Sr. said. “Frankly, to tell you the truth, Kevin left on good terms with everyone.”
Entering Penn State, Newsome had the stars and the size. He was rated as a four-star, dual threat quarterback, and Lew Johnston — Newsome’s high school coach at Western Branch — called the 6-foot-2 signal caller a “man among boys” even as a freshman.
In Newsome’s first season with Penn State, he was Clark’s backup.
There were two other quarterbacks who attempted a pass that season. One was current Penn State starter Matt McGloin, who was 0-for-2. The other was Newsome, who was 8-for-11 for 66 yards through the air and also compiled 121 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Rob Bolden was still a high school senior when this was happening. The job was Newsome’s to lose.
And lose it he did.
Bolden — who has since transferred to LSU — won the starting job for the 2010 season as a true freshman. When Bolden got injured in the Lions’ seventh game of the season, it was McGloin who took the reins of the offense.
Newsome played in six games that season, and threw the ball in just four of those appearances. He completed six of 13 passes for 78 yards to go along with 69 rushing yards and one touchdown two seasons ago.
The Lions faced Florida in the Outback Bowl at the end of the 2010 season, but Newsome didn’t make the trip with the team. Johnston said Newsome’s sophomore season took a mental toll on his former quarterback.
“He withdrew emotionally,” Johnston said. “Any athlete who has been the star, and all of a sudden, you’re on the bench, that’s a blow to your ego. And your whole self confidence gets rattled.”
After spending the spring semester at Penn State, Newsome decided it was time to leave the school last August and transferred.
“I guess he thought pretty much in the way things went in the spring and the summer, it probably would’ve been better if he tried chances at another school,” Kevin Sr. said.
But Newsome didn’t initially land at Temple. The heavily-recruited high school player found himself taking classes at Tidewater Community College, close to his home in Virginia. He spent nearly a whole year at the local school before finally landing at Temple this summer.
Johnston, who had a good talk with Newsome sometime in July, said the year off from football was an “epiphany” for the 21-year old.
“Getting away from football I think showed him how much football still meant to him,” Johnston said. “He was very excited. He’s been working hard. He probably dropped 15-20 pounds. He looked really good physically and seemed very up and excited emotionally at getting another chance to play Division I football.”
Newsome has another chance in the form of a spot on Temple’s roster, but the junior is still battling for playing time. Newsome didn’t see the field in either of Temple’s first two contests and is not listed at any position on the team’s depth chart.
Regardless of whether he gets on the field or not, Newsome will be on the opposite sideline of his former teammates Saturday. Penn State safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong said there aren’t many members on the team’s current roster that are in contact with Newsome.
“I’m not so sure anybody on the team still talks to him as much,” Obeng-Agyapong said.
And as Newsome returns to his former school, both Kevin Sr. and Johnston said the Newsome they know today is not the same kid who first stepped foot onto Penn State’s campus three years ago. The most notable difference — his level of maturity.
“From experiencing all that he did at Penn State, different ups and downs that any student athlete can go through,” Kevin Sr. said. “Being on the bench and being humbled by different situations, such as that. Just all those situations and maturing through those experiences [is the biggest difference].”
Johnston had similar remarks about Newsome.
“The adversity he had to deal with, the reality that he had to accept the fact there were things he needed to change in his life and his personality,” Johnston said. “I’m so proud of him, he faced up to it, and grew up from it and I just couldn’t be more proud of any young man I’ve ever coached.”