The best seat in the house: Ryan Newsome's faith-filled triumph

ASU wide receiver's love for the game goes back to a simple game of catch

Ryan Newsome has been involved with sports since the beginning, but his dedication stems from someone who has always been there – his brother.

Ryan watched and learned every athletic move his brother ever made, which contributed to his own success in high school and at the college level. However, uncertain circumstances at the University of Texas led Ryan to transfer to ASU where, despite painful adversity, he continues his search for greatness. 

A love for sports topped only by a brotherly bond

A father-son bond strengthens with every pitch and catch in a backyard or baseball field, but the everlasting image was more than that for Ryan Newsome – it was a foundation.

However, 4-year-old Ryan’s love of sports did not come from tossing a baseball with his dad – it came from watching his 11-year-old brother Randall intently.

Although baseball came first in Ryan’s life, it quickly took second place to his real dream, a dream with shoulder pads and a scratched-up helmet.

“Baseball was my first love, and then I kind of saw my brother playing (football) when I was growing up" Ryan said. "Watching him run the rock and making defenders miss – it looked fun – so I wanted to be able to do what he was doing."

Despite the conscious effort to analyze Randall’s every move in organized and pickup football games, Ryan’s best practice came when he broke a common house rule – no playing sports in the house.

“He had to get passed me to get to the couch. The couch was the touchdown,” Randall said. “He had to make me miss or had to run through me.”

Ryan and his brother's relationship changed when their carefree game of living room shenanigans turned into Randall playing for his high school football team, with his little brother Ryan close behind as the team's ball boy.

As time went on and Randall prepared to head to Texas Southern University, Ryan was forced into the reality that it would soon be his turn to take the field, but he would be doing it without his household teammate.

“He cried when I lost my last high school game,” Randall said. “He cried for me – I had to console him.”


A national record and unexpected turns

Only the Aledo High School fans truly understand the meaning behind the repeated touchdown calls for Ryan, especially his junior year after transferring to Aledo from L.D. Bell High School.

Ryan stepped into the national spotlight in 2013, after recording seven punt returns for touchdowns, tying a national record.

While Ryan was creating a name for himself, a young writer for Scout.com found his way to every single Aledo football game and was given the task to seek out Aledo’s best. That up-and-coming scout writer was Ryan’s older brother Randall, who did his best to ethically report on Aledo’s football games.

“There was one game where he had two punt return touchdowns in a game – one where he just made the whole team miss, and I was trying to keep my composure," Randall said. "I had my little press badge on and I was walking around, shaking hands, ‘hey how you doing?’… all of sudden he breaks and I lose my fricken mind.”

As Ryan broke for the end zone, Randall could not help but revert back to the days when he sprinted the sidelines of Ryan’s little league touchdown runs.

“Every professional thing went out the window. I take off running down the sideline … and it’s fine when you’re not supposed to be the media. He takes off running and I take off running, too. I’m like ‘go, go, go!’ and he went down the right sideline, reversed field and made everybody miss.”

After a strong 2013 campaign, Ryan became a highly-recruited player, receiving 25 offers from universities including Alabama, UCLA and Clemson.

After de-committing from UCLA, Ryan chose to stay home and attend the University of Texas.

Despite making lifelong friends his freshman year as a Texas Longhorn, Ryan wanted out. He felt the offensive scheme did not fit his style of play and that a coaching change was on the horizon. 

Randall advised his little brother to leave Texas after the Longhorns "burned" Ryan's redshirt season.

“If they don’t see the value that you bring to the table, you got to go,” Randall said.

And that’s exactly what Ryan did.

"Granny's" wise words

Ryan was now at the forefront of another recruiting frenzy, but it did not take long to realize where he could recapture his high school success.  

Although Ryan found his home as a Sun Devil, he was not the only new wide receiver in town.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver John Humphrey was transferring from Oklahoma around the same time as Ryan – both had crossed paths after being recruited by similar colleges during high school.

After Ryan finally transferred to ASU, both realized just how priceless their relationship was. 

“He’s my brother for life. He can come tell me anything and I know I can tell him anything, so I’m just thankful for him,” Humphrey said.

Even though the two compete for the same positions, Humphrey does not see it as a competition.

“We just better each other,” Humphrey said.

A week full of adversity nearly ended Ryan's 2017 season. A pulled quad and the passing of his beloved grandmother, Marva B. Newsome, tested his faith like never before.

“That was tough for me. Honestly, I just wanted to go back home. I was just like, 'man I want to go home. I don’t want to be up here no more; I just want to be by my family',” Ryan said. “I didn’t really want to come back.”

Marva always made it her priority to attend her grandchildren’s sporting events.

“She always had the best seat in the house,” Randall said.

Although she was no longer in the stands, Ryan took some wise words from “granny” and an abundance of faith to fight through one of the most troubling times of his life.

Ryan recalls his grandmother telling him, “You got to face the music. You can’t always be running.”

Except he did keep running, it was just back on the field. Ryan was back making defenders miss, and when the time came, he made his season debut back in Texas against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

“We all saw (Ryan) warming up and dancing, and we were all kind of like ‘oh there he is, he’s doing his thing,' and my dad started crying,” Randall said. “I said 'what’s going on,' ... and he said ‘I just wish she was here to see this,’ and I said ‘you know what dad? She’s got the best seat in the house'.”


Reach the reporter at atotri@asu.edu or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.

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