Newsome’s return a homecoming of sorts

Justin Toscano, Staff Writer
ASU Devils
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If Arizona State’s Ryan Newsome knows one thing about Lubbock, it’s that he can expect plenty of wind and tortillas.

Wait. Tortillas?

You read that right.

Texas Tech fans hold an interesting and unique tradition where they throw tortillas as if they were Frisbees onto the field at kickoff. Some go as far as the back of the end zone behind the returners when thrown from the stands.

“No one knows that because we’re out on the West Coast,” said Newsome, a sophomore receiver, and Fort Worth, Texas, native set to make his anticipated return to football on Saturday.

Some may remember that ASU fans used to throw tortillas on the field in the ‘90s. Tortillas are now banned from Sun Devil Stadium, but Red Raiders fans kept throwing them all through last season.

Newsome explained the tortilla tradition to senior running back Kalen Ballage, who’ll most likely be returning kicks when the Sun Devils play at Texas Tech on Saturday. When Ballage heard he’d probably have tortillas flying behind him, he shot Newsome a befuddled look.

It’s just one act Red Raiders fans use to make Jones AT&T Stadium one of the country’s rowdiest atmospheres. In 2011, Bleacher Report named Texas Tech the No. 8 rudest fan base in college football.

“I know how they are,” Newsome said. “They rile you up. It’s loud. …I love it, man, I can’t wait to be back. I welcome it with open arms.”

He’ll be familiar with the atmosphere, but others may not be as ready. Throughout the week, Newsome said he’s been telling his teammates what to expect come Saturday.

“I don’t know what it is about the West Coast, but the fans don’t talk as much noise,” he said. “Texas, they’re talking. You’re going to hear them.

“It’s not like any Pac-12 school. It’s just different, man … They’ll see when they get out there.”

It’ll be a big day for Newsome, too, as he’ll finally return to the playing field after losing last season because of transfer rules and then sitting out the team’s first two games of 2017 with a quad injury. He said he’s expecting about 15 family members to be at the game. He also has high school friends who now go to Texas Tech that will be in the crowd.

Newsome is known as a speed threat. He touts his ability to make defenders miss.

“I just want to touch the ball, then I’ll take care of the rest,” he said.

But he said he’s also greatly improved his route-running. Wide receivers coach Rob Likens called Newsome a “detail-oriented” player, which helps at receiver.

“When you can take a quick guy and a speed guy (like Newsome), he allows you to move him around because how he can pay attention to details and doing a number of things,” Likens said. “That just helps your offense out because you can me so multiple.”

Ask Newsome about sophomore cornerback Kobe Williams and he may laud Williams’ footwork. Ask him about junior corner Joey Bryant and he’ll brag about Bryant’s athleticism. Inquire about junior tight end Jay Jay Wilson and Newsome will tell you about his pass-catching ability.

The point: He studies the entire field, not just his position. It’s a rarity for college athletes to do so.

“It’s really just a ‘want to’ to be great,” Likens said.

Newsome wants to play in the NFL someday. And if he gets there, he hopes his love for studying film puts him above other receivers.

He said most players don’t want to study as much film as he does, but doing so gives him an advantage.

“Just to be able to decipher what the defense is doing, it helps me become a better player,” he said. “I know if I know what the defense is doing, I’m able to get into my route differently, I’m able to manipulate them. I can make myself look good.”

Newsome didn’t let his injury stop him from contributing during ASU’s first two games. He was active on the sidelines, something ASU coach Todd Graham is emphasizing with the Sun Devils this season.

Likens said most receivers he’s coached only come up to coaches on the sideline to say they were open. But when were they open? How did they get open?

Until those questions are answered, Likens and offensive coordinator Billy Napier can’t work to successfully get that receiver the ball. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem that’ll be an issue for Newsome. He’ll most likely come back with thorough breakdowns.

“He sees things and pays attention to different DBs and how they’re playing, and he’ll come up to me and tell me what he thinks is open,” Likens said. “That’s valuable stuff. And on top of that, I trust him.”

Likens said he expects Newsome to play against Texas Tech, giving ASU another option at receiver. This one is fast and elusive. He can be used on screens or crossing routes. He also seems to be a respected voice and leader on the team.

Newsome said he’s excited to play in his home state, but he expects some boos. He only started three games as a true freshman at the University of Texas, but before that, he was once a highly sought-after recruit.

“Most Texas people remember me,” he said.

He’ll be looking to give them another reason to remember his name on Saturday.

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