Hello, Newman

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February 17, 2003
Hello, Newman
by Warren DeLuca

With starters Marcus Coleman and Pro Bowler Aaron Glenn signed through 2004 and 2007 respectively, cornerback is not one of the Texans’ most glaring needs in this year’s draft. However, there is a school of thought that says that a team should never pass on a quality corner, and with multi-receiver sets so prevalent, having two legitimate covermen just isn’t enough anymore.

The best cornerback prospect this year, and according to some the best in the last few years, is Terence Newman of Kansas State. HoustonProFootball.com talked to Kevin Haskin of the Topeka Capital-Journal about Newman, linebacker Terry Pierce, and the rest of the Wildcats.

HPF: Newman is known for his tremendous speed, but what else does he bring to the table?

Haskin: Simply a great kid, extremely humble. He didn’t begin playing football until a late age and against his mother’s wishes. He wasn’t even recruited by Kansas State until he received an offer from Kansas and the Wildcat staff decided it better look into this kid from 60 miles down the road in Salina.

HPF: What areas of his game need improvement?

Haskin: He worked hard during his collegiate days not to rely on his incredible catch-up speed and become better at covering receivers and physically taking them out of routes. Still, those will be areas NFL teams will drill Newman on.

HPF: At what point in Newman’s career at Kansas State did it become apparent that he was more than just a track guy playing football and that he had a chance to become a quality cornerback?

Haskin: His turning point came in the Cotton Bowl in 2001 against Tennessee. Jerametrius Butler, a cornerback who came out early that year and was drafted in the fifth round by the St. Louis Rams, left early with cramps. Newman came in and when Butler wanted to return, he was told no. That’s when K-State knew it had a special cornerback, though Newman was uncomfortable coming out early after his junior season because he still felt he needed more experience.

HPF: The Wildcats faced some big-name receivers in 2002, like Texas’ Roy Williams, Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods, Southern Cal’s Kareem Kelly, and Missouri’s Justin Gage. Did Newman spend much time one-on-one against each of those receivers, and if so, how did he fare?

Haskin: Newman covered all those receivers and did well. Gage didn’t make a catch until the end of the third quarter. It was a flea-flicker and Newman bit on the run fake. Gage had just one other catch in the game. Williams and Kelly both had off games against Newman, as well. Woods had eight catches for 77 yards, but they didn’t mean much in a 44-9 rout.

HPF: How much does his ability to contribute on special teams, on returns and coverage, and on offense add to his value?

Haskin: Huge. He doesn’t have great moves on returns, but give him a seam and he’s gone. He didn’t play much at receiver, though the first time he stepped on the field in that position, K-State went up top and he caught a 51-yard TD pass. One strength that goes overlooked is Newman’s ability to crash in and block punts.

HPF: Linebacker Terry Pierce opted to forego his senior season at Kansas State and enter the NFL draft. Did this surprise many people in Manhattan, or was it expected?

Haskin: It was expected, because of the great times and marks Pierce has on tests. The only question was whether he might stay to obtain his degree in finance. He is just 13 hours short and has been named to Academic All-Big 12 and All-Region teams.

HPF: Pierce was a middle linebacker for the Wildcats, but many are projecting that he could also play outside. What do you think his best position in a 3-4 defense would be, and why?

Haskin: He has the speed to move outside, though when K-State used him in pass coverage he often got burned when tight ends released downfield. I like him more in the middle.

HPF: How does Pierce compare to former Kansas State linebacker Ben Leber, who made most NFL all-rookie teams in 2002 as a San Diego Charger?

Haskin: Pierce has more tools and is a harder hitter, though both were extremely strong at K-State.

HPF: Have you gotten any indication of the degree of the Texans’ interest in either Newman or Pierce?

Haskin: I have not yet heard.

HPF: Are there any other Kansas State prospects that you feel have a strong shot at the NFL?

Haskin: Tank Reese is an undersized defensive tackle who deserves some looks. His ability to get push up the middle was where it all started last season and a big reason why K-State ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense. Thomas Barnett, who spent six years in the K-State program, may get some looks as an offensive tackle, though I don’t like his chances to stick in the NFL.

Kevin Haskin is in his 18th year at the Topeka Capital-Journal and has covered Kansas State football since 1994, long enough to cover all but the first bowl game during its 10-year postseason run. He is the Kansas State beat writer and also covers golf. Terence Newman Terence Newman Home Return to Houston Pro Football