Dazz Newsome, Jeremiah Owusu lead pack of Peninsula District football signees

Contact Reporterkyanchulis@dailypress.com
Hampton RB/CB Dazz Newsome passed up family tradition at Virginia Tech to sign with North Carolina.

Hampton senior Dazz Newsome proved as difficult to pin down in the recruiting process as on the football field.

The running back and cornerback delivered the surprise of National Signing Day on the Peninsula when he passed up rich family and Crabbers tradition at Virginia Tech and signed with North Carolina.

Bethel senior Jeremiah Owusu provided the day's other big reveal.

The hybrid linebacker-safety had narrowed his choices to Notre Dame and Michigan State, then announced his final decision with a phone call to Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly while on stage in the Bethel High auditorium.

Owusu admitted afterward that he had set up the call with Kelly on Sunday night, when he reached out to the coach to confirm his commitment to Notre Dame.

The call on Wednesday afternoon reached Kelly in the middle of a press conference in South Bend, and the coach's response was caught by a room full of cameras and reporters. While Owusu said he did not know about that wrinkle, the exercise played out as a neat bit of showmanship by both player and coach.

Newsome too milked the drama surrounded his signing.

The Daily Press offensive football player of the year originally committed to Maryland in October, then withdrew his commitment on Jan. 14 after his official visit to North Carolina. Instead, he said he would reveal his pick on signing day from among a top three of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

The Hokies seemed like the safe bet. His older brother Deon will be a redshirt senior safety for Virginia Tech this fall. His father Myron played there in the 1990s. The Newsomes are just two of many Crabbers-turned-Hokies.

Dazz Newsome, though, said he was set on the Tar Heels after his trip to Chapel Hill.

"I've been to Virginia Tech I can't even count how many times, and I've been to UNC four times," Newsome said. "But by the second day of my official visit to North Carolina, I knew that's where I needed to be."

While he played up the suspense in public, he quietly canceled an official visit to Blacksburg scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 20.

Still, at his signing ceremony at the Hampton High library Wednesday morning, he kept everyone guessing until the last second.

A Maryland cap, a Virginia Tech visor and a North Carolina visor lay on the table in front of him. He first picked up the Virginia Tech visor, then shook his head and put it back down before grabbing the North Carolina visor and putting it on.

While Newsome grew up rooting for the Hokies, he said Virginia Tech seemed to take him for granted in the recruiting process.

"I got the feeling like they thought they could offer me anytime," Newsome said.

Virginia Tech offered him a scholarship on Nov. 29, more than a month after his initial commitment to Maryland. North Carolina did not offer him a scholarship until even later, Dec. 16, but Newsome said in the weeks after that the Tar Heels made him feel like one of their top choices.

The Tar Heels have tabbed Newsome as a cornerback and a return specialist. Newsome led the Peninsula District this season with 35 touchdowns in 13 games. Of the touchdowns, 28 came on the ground, three through the air, two on punt returns and two on interception returns.

While Myron Newsome said it will be strange to get used to Carolina blue, he supports Dazz's decision.

"He's got to pave his own path, and that's what he's doing by going to North Carolina," Newsome said. "As long as he's happy, I'm happy too."

Other Peninsula District signees from Wednesday included Hampton's defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe to Florida, offensive linemen Jalen Powell and Justin Redd both inked their commitments to Norfolk State. Phoebus safety Johnathan Gregory also signed with the Spartans.

Heritage wide receiver Amonyae Watson signed with William and Mary, while Bethel defensive tackle Janaz Jordan signed with Old Dominion.

Heritage linebacker Jeremiah Boyd accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and plans to play for the Midshipmen. Woodside quarterback Tyhier Tyler accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and plans to play for Army.

Rounding out the NCAA Division I recruits, Woodside safety Kamari Jackson signed a letter of intent with Delaware State.

At the NCAA Division II level, Bethel linebacker Jaevynn Holmes-Reid and Phoebus defensive lineman Marcus Taite signed with West Virginia State; Bethel lineman Solomon Luckett signed with Virginia State; Phoebus defensive lineman Keyshawn Battle-Patterson signed with West Virginia Wesleyan and Phoebus linebacker Shadarius Horne signed with Glenville State.

Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette