August 22, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No.12 - Tre Newton

Name: Tre Newton

Position: Running back

Classification: Redshirt freshman

Prep credentials: The former Southlake Carroll star was a three-star prospect (5.7) who was ranked as the nation's No.18 running back by Rivals. Newton was ranked as the state's No.62 overall prospect by Lone Star Recruiting, while Rivals ranked him as the state's No.54 player.

Click here to see Newton's high school film

2008 stats: Newton took a redshirt in 2008.

2008 Honors: None

Scouting Report: When the Longhorns recruited Newton back in 2007, the hope was that he would eventually project as kind of an upgraded model of former Texas starter Chris Ogbonnaya - a back that can do a little bit of everything, but perhaps with a little bit more 0-to-60 pop. After spending his formative high school years in Todd Dodge-led Southlake Carroll program, the Longhorns knew that they were going to get a player whose body was still transforming, but whose all-around skill set was tailor-made for the Texas offense.

After a single redshirt season, it's starting to look like the Longhorns made a good gamble because the 6-0, 200-pound Newton has shown flashes this year that he's going to be a major element of the Texas offense in years to come. As a running back, Newton runs the ball with the kind of aggression that reminds you of slighter version of Dallas Cowboys starting running back Marion Barber, While he isn't the fastest back to the corner on the roster, Newton doesn't waste steps and when he gets his shoulders squared and turned up-field, he's a tough guy to tackle. Newton is also a guy that does a great job of running with a downhill lean and he probably finishes his runs as well as any player on the team.

As a receiver out of the backfield, Newton catches the ball extremely well and represents a true threat in space when he gets into the second and third levels of the defense. He's also a willing blocker that can be trusted to protect the quarterback in blitz pick-up.

Overall, his versatility as a player makes him a very attractive option for the Longhorns if any of their older running backs fail to deliver the goods in 2009. Newton can do a little bit of everything very well - he only lacks game reps and opportunities at this point. The knock on Newton has always been that he doesn't have the extra gear to emerge as a front-line player at the collegiate level, but as his frame and level of play continue to develop, that lack of burst doesn't seem like such a big deal any more. This kid can play and he can make plays in just about every capacity.

The big hope… As the season unfolds, Newton emerges as a legit and dependable third-down option at running back for the Longhorns to replace the departed Ogbonnaya.

The big worry… With older players like Vondrell McGee, Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson all returning, the fear is that he's not going to get many quality game reps when the lights come on.

Did you know? Newton was a member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll in his first semester on campus in the spring of 2008.

NFL Scouting report:"Yeah, there's nothing that I can say about him right now."

The bottom line: Newton has been a pleasant surprise since arriving in Austin and it's simply going to come down to whether or not he gets the opportunities when the games matter and can take advantage of them when they do come. He enjoyed an excellent spring and he's been even better this month. His best hope is to win playing time as the third-down back and that's probably not out of reach, especially if McGee or Whittaker struggle with consistency in pass protection. A lot of people are sleeping on Newton, but he's a sleeper on offense that could really provide this unit with some unexpected juice.

No.16 - David SnowNo.17 - Curtis BrownNo.18 - Malcolm WilliamsNo.19 - Keenan RobinsonNo.20 - Vondrell McGeeNo.21 - Blake GideonNo.22 - Adam UlatoskiNo.23 - Ben AlexanderNo.24 - James KirkendollNo.25 - Jared Norton

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