ANSONIA >> Tom Brockett witnessed Arkeel Newsome’s work ethic and dedication first-hand, and what the Ansonia coach saw leads him to believe Newsome will become a successful college player.
During his four years with the Chargers, Newsome became the state’s all-time leading rusher while leading Ansonia to 43 straight wins and three consecutive state championships. But now Newsome is ready to embark on the next phase of his career.
“The first thing I think it starts with is that he has a great ability to play the game,” Brockett said. “He has the entire skill set, minus being 6 foot. You just don’t see kids that can do the things he can do with the ball in his hands. I think it’s important that he loves the game. He’ll continue to work hard at that.”
The official signing day ceremony for Newsome took place Tuesday at Ansonia High, although Newsome signed his national letter of intent last Wednesday.
Newsome kept his commitment to play at UConn despite a coaching change at the university this past season. Paul Pasqualoni, who recruited Newsome, was fired after starting the season 0-4. T.J. Weist was the interim coach for the remainder of the season and Bob Diaco was introduced as the new head coach in December.
“Now that I met them, I love the new coaching staff; they’re great guys,” Newsome said.
Newsome will leave for UConn in June, and that’s when Newsome believes the coaching staff will inform him whether he will redshirt or play as a true freshman.
The opportunity to stay local was part of Newsome’s decision to commit to UConn.
“It definitely had a little effect,” Newsome said. “Family, friends can watch me and support me. I just love having my family watch me when I play.”
Newsome also believes that with a new coaching staff and a talented crop of incoming recruits, the Huskies can improve on last season’s 3-9 record.
“I’m definitely confident,” Newsome said. “(In) a year or two, I think it’s going to change a lot. Just me being a part of that is going to be great. I’m definitely going to help them do that.”
Playing at the next level will present new challenges for Newsome, who rushed for 10,672 yards, scored 187 total touchdowns and tallied 1,162 points in his high school career, all state records. Newsome was named the Register’s State Player of the Year as both a sophomore and a senior.
“Next year, obviously, you start back over again as really not having accomplished anything,” Brockett said. “I saw how hard he worked after having already been the player of the year (as a sophomore). I think he’ll continue to work that hard, and continue to excel.”