Welcome to our second installment of The Jug’s series on uncommitted players from the state of Kansas that K-State will look to secure over the course of the next nine months. Last week we looked at offensive tackle Braden Smith, one of the most prized recruits in the nation. Today we turn our sights to the other side of the line in Peyton Newell – another highly decorated player that the Wildcats appear to have an solid shot at winning.
Newell is a defensive lineman from Hiawatha. Rivals projects him to play strongside defensive end in college, where they rank him 15th in the nation. However, Fox Sports ranks him the #23 defensive tackle in the nation. His size suggests the tackle position is in his future, as Newell measures at 6’3″ and 280 pounds, which we can only assume will grow once he lands in the K-State weight room. In 2012 he produced 61 tackles, 37 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, ten sacks, two blocked PATs, and a blocked punt. He was an absolute beast in 4A and named by the St Joseph News-Press as the Defensive Player of the Year. As a sophomore he was the the selected to the 4A All-State team as an honorable mention – the only lineman to receive the distinction. He had 74 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, six sacks, four blocked PATs, and a blocked punt that year. He also plays tight end, but his true value lies on the defensive side of the ball.
Newell should be an impressive player and already squats 605 while benching a max of 405 pounds and running a 4.86. As the #3 or #4 best player in the state (depending on the service you ask), he has been steadily whittling down the number of suitors he will consider this summer. In early June he announced six colleges he was considering, and at the end of June narrowed the list to four: Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, and South Carolina (he previously considered North Carolina State and Georgia as well). On July 23 the online blog Palmetto Sports reported that Newell would be making a decision strictly between Nebraska and South Carolina on August 30, but there’s little independent verification out there that this is the case (South Carolina is the Palmetto State, and you can guess which team its writer tries to gin up excitement for).
The only basis I could track down to support this claim is that a staff member at 247 Sports tweeted that Newell would be making his decision between Nebraska and South Carolina. However, there are two huge problems with buying into this: 1. recruiting services (like all media) will make bold proclamations to rake in page clicks and then explain that’s what they think will happen; and 2. the statement was made the day before Newell announced he had narrowed his selection down to four (in other words, the staff at 247 Sports was full of spit). In fact, it looks like Newell may be more inclined to stay in the Midwest – he missed last Friday’s Black Magic Camp at S.C. because of his grandmother’s birthday. Now, it’s not impossible for a recruit to commit sight unseen, but kids fall in love with a place once they’re able to awe at the facilities, downtown, and general campus accommodations. If anything, it looks like a three-horse race between K-State, KU, and Nebraska.
*On the subject of the birthday of Newell’s grandmother, I was a little sickened by going to a couple University of South Carolina boards to read about how he was ‘stupid’ for skipping the Black Magic Camp. Newell lost his mother to breast cancer as a kid and his grandmother has been an important of his life in helping fill that void. I’m sure the comments fell somewhere between ignorance and stupidity, but it seemed pretty classless. The Rapid City Journal did a nice spotlight on Newell’s family history here.
K-State didn’t do a tremendous job of recruiting at the defensive tackle spot last year and this could become an area of need quickly if the team can’t bring in some talent at the position. Newell appears to be the best option here – he’s dominated opposing teams since his sophomore year, is strong as hell, and grew up less than two hours from Manhattan (of course, he’s about as far away from Lincoln and slightly closer to Lawrence). Plus he grew up a Jayhawk fan. However, commitments to K-State have been heating up recently and the upward trajectory of new talent to the program – combined with a strong opportunity to see significant playing time – could be enough to get Peyton Newell into silver and purple in 2014.