Cullowhee, N.C - One of the greatest all-purpose backs in Western Carolina football history, Detrez Newsome signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night giving the Catamount football program two players joining NFL squads on the final day of the draft. Newsome's signing was confirmed through Chargers.com -- one of 21 undrafted free agents inked by the team following the 2018 NFL Draft.
According to records, Newsome is the first Catamount to ever join the Chargers organization, though former Catamount Joe D'Alessandris served as the offensive line coach with the franchise from 2013-15.
Following the 2017 season, Newsome was invited to participate in the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in California -- a third Catamount since 2014 to earn the invitation. In the showcase game, he rushed a team-high seven times for 20 yards, adding two receptions for seven yards and one kickoff return for 10 yards for the winning National team (W, 23-0).
Newsome closed his record-setting four-year career ranked second in school history with 3,728 rushing yards and 37 scores on the ground as a part of a program-best 46 total touchdowns, adding seven receiving TDs and two kickoff returns for scores. He finished with 16, 100-yard rushing performances during his career, second all-time at WCU behind all-time leading rusher Darrell Lipford who accomplished the feat 22 times and just eclipsing Brad Hoover who had surpassed the century mark 15 on occasions.
During his four years in Cullowhee, Newsome posted four, 100+ yard rushing performances against FBS competition -- 107 yards at North Carolina (2017); 115 yards and a touchdown at South Carolina (2016); 111 yards at Texas A&M (2015); 128 yards and a TD at Tennessee (2015). He also posted a career-day with 365 all-purpose yards including a school-record 240 kickoff return yards against SEC-foe, South Carolina in 2016.
Even though he missed three games due to injury -- and was limited in fourth outing during the 2018 season -- Newsome managed to become the first-ever Catamount running back to rush for 1,000-or-more yards in three consecutive years. After rushing 96 times for 488 yards as a freshman, Newsome posted consecutive seasons with 1,109 yards, 1,031 yards, and 1,100 yards on the ground. Surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau as a sophomore in 2015 made him the first Catamount to accomplish the feat since 2006, ending nearly a decade drought for the Catamounts.
Newsome recorded at least nine rushing TDs each season, scoring a total of 90 points as a junior with 15 total TDs. Over his four-year career, he accounted for 276 points -- and even threw a touchdown pass, delivering a 75-yard scoring strike on the first play from scrimmage to open the 2015 season.
A versatile back, Newsome twice paced the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in all-purpose yards as the season champion. His 170.67 all-purpose yards per game average led the FCS in 2017 while ranking third in all of NCAA Division I football (FBS & FBS). As a junior, Newsome amassed a Southern Conference record 2,343 all-purpose yards to lead three of the four NCAA football divisions, finishing with a better average than former Stanford Cardinal -- and current Carolina Panther -- Christian McCaffery.
A product of Raeford, N.C., Newsome was a nine-time postseason All-America selection between his junior and senior seasons, collecting honors both as a running back and as an all-purpose back. He earned All-Southern Conference plaudits in each of his four seasons in the Purple & Gold including first-team plaudits after his sophomore and senior seasons with second-team honors as a freshman and junior. He collected weekly honors from the SoCon six times over his four years including four offensive nods, once on special teams, and once dubbed Freshman of the Week back in 2014.
As reported in a news release put out by the team, over the past 21 years, at least one player signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chargers franchise has made the final 53-man roster -- the longest such streak in the NFL. The past three years has seen four college free agents make the cut out of training camp.
Western Carolina saw senior defensive back Keion Crossen drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft on Saturday afternoon before Newsome signed with the Chargers later that evening.