Nashville High football and basketball standout Royce Newman has given a verbal commitment to play football at the University of Missouri — and he’ll be playing a new position in college.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound senior has played tight end and defensive end for the Hornets and is expected to play offensive tackle at Mizzou.
“I had a really good camp there and they called me a week later to offer me,” said Newman, who made his commitment official Sunday on his Twitter account. “They wanted to see my technique and to see if I liked to play offensive tackle, and I did pretty good.”
Newman has been a first-team News-Democrat All-Area performer in both football and basketball and also has been an all-state basketball player who helped the Hornets to a second-place finish at the 2014 Class 2A state basketball tournament.
Even though he’s never used Newman at offensive tackle, Hornets coach Tim Kuhn said it makes perfect sense.
“Down the road with his genetics it’s going to be a natural fit,” Kuhn said. “His brother (Travis Newman) has basically played every position at McKendree. Royce is really accepting of the position switch because of Mizzou’s success with taking his body type and turning (players) into really, really high-level players. Down the road this guy’s going to be 290 or higher and still be extremely athletic.
“Who knows where it goes from there.”
Newman was impressive with just about everything that Mizzou had to offer.
“It’s a great school and the coaching staff is just awesome, plus it’s really close to home,” said Newman, who admitted having an opportunity to play against some of the nation’s top programs on a weekly basis in the Southeastern Conference was also appealing. “That’s pretty sweet.”
Newman also had football offers from North Carolina State, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois State and Eastern Illinois. Iowa was another school that expressed interest. Verbal commitments are non-binding; the next football recruiting signing period is in February, 2016.
“I’d been hearing from Iowa and all of a sudden North Carolina State showed up on the radar;” Kuhn said. “They (North Carolina State) came to Nashville and that doesn’t happen very often. Everybody in the state of Illinois, except the University of Illinois, has been in to see him. I’m excited for the progam, for the family, for everybody.”
North Carolina State and SIUC wanted Newman to play tight end, while Mizzou and the other schools projected him as an offensive tackle.
“We run a double-wing offense at Nashville, so I’m pretty much blocking every play,” said Newman, who will continue to play basketball and football at Nashville. “After my sophomore year I started emerging more toward football.”
Kuhn said Mizzou assistant coach Cornell Ford was impressed with Newman at the camp. Kuhn talked about what he feels are Newman’s best attributes.
“Just his size and his toughness and his effort,” Kuhn said of Newman, who has been a varsity starter since his freshman year. “That was the one thing that really impressed them at the camp was his toughness and his effort. He just brings it on every snap.”
Newman is the second metro-east player to commit to Missouri in the last two weeks, joining O’Fallon High kicker Tucker McCann. East St. Louis All-American defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. signed with the Tigers last February.
Nashville was 8-3 last season and lost to Mt. Carmel in the second round of the playoffs.