Quince Orchard High School rising senior Marcus Newby is one of the most sought-after college football recruits in the country.
The 6-foot-1, 208-pound hard-hitting middle linebacker is a highly regarded four-star (out of five) recruit by the nation’s three largest recruiting services (Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247sports.com) and holds double digit scholarship offers from NCAA Division I schools. He had 81 tackles (16 for loss) and three sacks last fall while helping the Cougars advance to the Class 4A state championship game.
But it wasn’t always that way.
As a third grader, Newby briefly suited up as a backup quarterback for the St. Francis of Assisi youth football team before quitting.
“It’s actually kind of funny because I was a little scared back then,” he said. “I got hit a lot and I hated the contact.”
So Newby stopped playing the sport until seventh grade when he signed up to play for the South Germantown Sports Association’s unlimited weight team as a linebacker.
“It was kind of like a switch was turned on after a few years,” the lifelong Gaithersburg resident said. “All my friends and I would play in the neighborhood and everybody was like, ‘You should play football and try out.’ We would be playing tackle in the neighborhood every day and I was going up against older people. We hit everyday without pads so I guess that kind of toughened me up.”
<>On the recruiting trail<>
While on a recruiting visit at the University of Nebraska two weeks ago, Newby and coach Dave Mencarini met the school’s athletic director and coaching legend Tom Osborne.
Several times during the visit to Lincoln, the pair walked by Osborne’s bronze statue in front of Memorial Stadium.
“We must’ve been by [the statue] five times,” Mencarini said. “After we met Osborne [in person], Marcus was like, ‘Who is that guy? … I thought they only made statues of people when you die.’ I had to laugh and say, ‘Marcus that’s the guy we kept walking by. … That just shows you how big college football is here.”
Newby, admittedly, is a little na´ve to the history of college football, but Mencarini said that hasn’t been such a bad thing throughout the recruiting process.
“Football is football and Marcus can play anywhere in the country,” Mencarini said. “He doesn’t get caught up in all the past history of a college program, and I think that is beneficial for a kid. In Marcus’ case, he can just focus on the other things like academics and relationships with coaches and teammates.”
It wasn’t until midway through Newby’s sophomore season that he realized he had the potential to do “big things.”
“Coach Mencarini pulled me aside after practice one day and was like, ‘Recruiting is going to get big and be hectic and you are going to be hearing from a lot of different people,’” Newby said. “It all blew up that spring and it was just so shocking to me. I mean, my dream has always been to play college football and I figured I was a pretty good player, but I never imagined I’d get to go visit all these places and get [scholarship offers] from big-time programs.”
Newby, who said he has narrowed his college choices to Penn State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Rutgers and Maryland, hopes to make a verbal commitment before preseason practice begins in mid-August. He said no particular school stands out right now, but academics and the potential to play early are significant factors. He has sought advice from several Quince Orchard graduates who have gone on to play Division I football, including Alex Twine (Maryland) and Jason Ankrah (Nebraska).
In the meantime, Newby would like to concentrate on improving his game on the field. He has strong natural instincts and is strong at pursuing the ball sideline to sideline, but said he wants to improve on his ability to recognize offensive formations.
“This whole process is fun and stressful,” Newby said. “But I can’t wait for fall. I definitely want to be able to just focus on football.”
Mencarini said the Cougars likely will have five other players — Tyrell Williams, Kieran Gregory, Carlo St. Regis, Matt Choi and Andrew Ankrah — sign with Division I colleges this year.