Peyton Newell’s junior season didn’t end the way he would have liked, but the 2014 Kansas defensive lineman is proud of what he and his Hiawatha (Hiawatha, Kan.) High School teammates accomplished this year.
“Overall, it was a really good season,” said Newell. “We were picked to finish last in our league and we ended up 8-3.
“It was rewarding. We definitely did a lot better than anybody expected us to and that’s always a good feeling to prove people wrong.”
Hiawatha was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs with a 63-26 loss to unbeaten Silver Lake.
“We competed with them until about the fourth quarter and then they had a few big plays and they ended up beating us,” said Newell.
The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder had a fine season individually. He finished the year with 61 tackles, 37 for a loss, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 10 sacks. He also blocked two PATs and a punt. Offensively, he caught 14 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns as a tight end.
“I ended up breaking three school records,” said Newell. “I had the most sacks in a season with 10, most tackles for a loss in a season with 37 and then sacks in a game with three. I was glad to get all of those.”
Newell attributed his fall success to his summer determination.
“I really worked hard,” he said. “I dedicated pretty much my whole summer to getting ready for the season. I think that was a big part of it.”
Newell has also seen that hard work pay off in the form of 19 scholarship offers. He currently holds offers from UCLA, TCU, Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Baylor, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas, Purdue, South Carolina, Tulsa, California, Oklahoma State, Duke, Northwestern, NC State, and Colorado.
“It’s definitely overwhelming, but the recruiting process is enjoyable and has its perks,” he said. ”I’m enjoying it. I think I get about 40 letters every day.”
Newell will be dedicating himself even more to football this offseason.
“I’m not playing basketball this year; I’m really going to focus on lifting and stuff like that,” he said.
Newell was at Nebraska last weekend and will be in South Bend for his first trip to Notre Dame this weekend.
“Just to say that you’ve been to Notre Dame, I feel like that’s a lifetime goal for a lot of people,” he said. “I’m really excited to get up there just to see if it’s what everyone says it is. A lot of people say the campus is like no other, so I’ll be excited to see that.”
Newell is impressed with what he knows about Notre Dame so far.
“They’re undefeated this year,” he said. “I know they’re really high in academics and with the history of the program, I know Notre Dame is not going to have any off years.”
Newell doesn’t have any leaders at this point, but plans on narrowing things down before next season.
“I’m just giving every school a chance and hopefully narrow it to a top five this summer,” he said.
Relationships will be key when it comes to Newell narrowing his list and ultimately making a decision.
“The coaching staff and strength and conditioning staff is most important because that’s who I’m going to be with every day. I definitely want to make sure I can see myself having good relationships with those people.”