Newson steps up in senior season

Adam Hritzak and Adam Hritzak

A leader is someone who is respected by those around them. A leader is a person you can rely on in any situation, no matter how challenging it may be. A leader is looked up to and is a great role model for those who follow them.

The leader in the BG secondary is Keon Newson.

Whether it is leading by example on the field or off, Newson has stepped up his role in his senior season to guide an inexperienced secondary.

“I accepted the role (as a leader) and I like it,” Newson said. “I just try to get the best out of me and the guys around me.”

He has taken over the role from Janssen Patton, who graduated last year and led BG in interceptions in 2003 with seven. Newson credits Patton with teaching him how to be an impact player and how to prepare for games every week.

“I began to learn from Janssen from the moment I stepped on BG’s campus,” Newson said. “Janssen was a tough-nosed player and he had a great sense of the game.”

“Just watching him, I was able to learn so much. Talking to him, you found out how much he really understood what was going on in the game and I think that rubbed off on me. Being around a good player like that, if you soak in what they have for you, then you can learn a lot.”

With newcomers to the starting secondary in Terrill Mayberry and Deaudre Perry, Newson is attempting to get them comfortable with their new roles without making them feel too much pressure.

“I’m not putting any big, heavy expectations on these guys,” he said. “I just want them to go out and play to their ability. I want them to have fun because I know that they’re young and it’s all a learning experience.”

The wisdom Newson has gained in his career at BG has taught him that when things do not go right, you have to pick yourself up. It is something he is trying to emphasize to the young starters.

“If you have bad plays, you don’t have to beat up on yourself. You get better as you experience more and you understand more. (I) let those guys relax and just play because they can play or they wouldn’t be here.”

Newson has started the 2004 season on top of his game. After leading the Mid-American Conference in ’03 in forced fumbles with six, Newson has picked up right where he left off, forcing and recovering a fumble in each of the first two games this year.

His ability to jar the ball loose from opposing players has been key for the Falcons and is something he works hard at.

“I look for opportunities to go after (the ball). I look for running backs or tight ends or whatever to be carelessly running with the ball. It’s something we focus on in practice and I make it important for me to try to do in games.”

Two weeks ago in Oklahoma, Newson was matched up against one of the top teams in the nation and the 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jason White. Early in the fourth quarter, Newson read a signal White gave to his receivers and jumped a screen route, intercepting the pass and returning it 28-yards for a touchdown.

“I think that was the highlight of my life,” he said. “It’s going to be something that I cherish for the rest of my life and I was blessed to be able to be out there.”

Coming out of Columbia High School in Decatur, GA, he took the path up north to the cold to play football and get an education.

“I felt like BG was a great place, and I know sometimes when you say that, people are like ‘It’s a small town’.”

That did not shy him away and was actually more of what he was looking for.

“For some people, the life in college is all meant for partying and trying to have the biggest and the best. But, there’s more to life … you can have some of your best relationships in an area where you deal with less than normal, in certain circumstances.”

Since coming to school here, Newson has seen his football skills develop and he has become a leader on the football team of a school he is proud to attend.

“I think that the relationships I’ve built here just shows me that the decision I made to come here was one of the best decisions of my life.”