football Edit

Senior Signing Spotlight: Jelani Newman

Photo Courtesy of Jelani Newman
Photo Courtesy of Jelani Newman

Trip to camp began recruitment to San Jose State for Saguaro offensive lineman

This is No. 16 in a month-long series of profiles of Arizona high school seniors that signed with four-year colleges. Here's the full list (currently totaling 290) players from within the state moving on to the next level.

SPOTLIGHT: 2/26/19

Jelani Newman had a pair of offers, from Arkansas-Pine Bluff and UNLV, when he attended a camp on the campus of San Jose State last June.

Following a stellar performance, Newman bagged an offer from the Spartans. He had interest (but no offers) from Power Five schools along the way, including both Arizona schools. In July, the 6-4, 290-pound offensive guard from Saguaro committed to SJSU.

"They are a great group of coaches who are building something special and made me feel like I was at home," Newman said in a text message back in July after committing. "I really loved (OL) Coach (Joe) Bernardi's philosophy. Also, the city and school is beautiful and that drew me in more."

Bernardi's mantra stresses academics, toughness, and a love for the game, in that order. Newman went on his official visit to San Jose State in December and signed during the early period a few days later.

Saguaro won its sixth consecutive state title last November and did it with a balanced offense. The Sabercats (13-1) averaged 230 yards rushing and 208 passing per game. Newman credits offensive line coach Mark Martinez and running backs coach Nyles Outley for having the linemen ready to defend their title yet again.

"We were prepared for this moment starting back in January," Newman said in an e-mail interview. "Coach Martinez and Coach O worked with us on every detail, setting us up with a bag of tools to use every game for any situtation. This made us able to give (Tyler) Beverett a comfortable pocket to throw in and win state."

Beverett, a junior first-year starter, completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,093 yards and tossed 22 touchdowns. He had plenty of protection from the boys up front, including Newman, who was named to the All-State 4A Team for the second straight year.

Saguaro played the maximum number of games (42) during Newman's three years on varsity. The Sabercats averaged 45.2 points per game in that span and went 39-3.

Newman was one of six SHS seniors to sign with an FBS school. In all, 13 of the Sabercats signed with four-year colleges.

Saguaro offensive linemen celebrate after taking the 4A championship game in Tucson last November over Salpointe.  Photo by Ralph Amsden
Saguaro offensive linemen celebrate after taking the 4A championship game in Tucson last November over Salpointe. Photo by Ralph Amsden

Last spring, Newman did some offseason training by throwing the shot put and discus for the Sabercats' track and field team. He won't be doing that this year, due to a shoulder issue, but he does recommend it for the guys in the trenches.

"Throwing shot and disc is definitely good for linemen to do during the offseason because it teaches good hip explosion with proper technique.

Newman plans to major in Business Analytics at SJSU. The Spartans had a need on the offensive line after rushing for just 61.5 yards per game last year during a 1-11 season. San Jose State won't be as young in 2019 as it seeks to improve. Over the past two years, 47 freshmen have seen game action for the Spartans. The team opens at home on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Northern Colorado. Later in the year, both teams that met for the Mountain West Championship will make trips to CEFCU Stadium. Boise State will be there on Nov. 2 and Fresno State closes out the regular season on Nov. 30.