September 16, 2009

Son of a Cowboy: Tre' Newton learning from his father

With Tre' Newton averaging 7.5 yards per carry and showing he can pick up the blitz and catch the football, it appears Newton is settling into the key role Chris Ogbonnaya had last season as the team's third-down back ... and possibly even more.

By now, most everyone knows Newton is the son of former Cowboys' Pro Bowl offensive lineman Nate Newton. I used to cover Nate Newton during training Cowboys' training camps in Austin, and Big Nate, as everyone called him, was always the life of the party.

He was a great talker and would entertain the media with his big personality and opinions.

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

But Nate was also charged for possession with intent to distribute 213 pounds of marijuana that were found in his white van on Nov. 4, 2001, in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.

Six weeks later while out on bail for the first drug charge, Newton was caught with 175 pounds of marijuana on Interstate 45.

He served 30 months in federal prison and has since renounced his past and turned his life around. He speaks to children involved in athletics about his past. He is now a member of the North Dallas Community of God.

"My dad's messed up," Tre' Newton said Tuesday. "He's turned his life around though. Right now, he's headed in the right direction, and he's just trying to make sure me and my little brother don't make some of the same mistakes he did."

SON OF A COWBOY

Tre' remembers going to training camp and to Valley Ranch with his dad when he was 5 years old and having players like Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman pat him on the head.

"It was fun," Tre' said. "Now, the only time my dad brings up football is when I ask him for advice. Other than that, he just wants to make sure I'm going to class and making good grades."

Nate Newton was a six-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman who helped Dallas win three Super Bowls. He spent 14 seasons in the NFL, 13 with Dallas. He retired after one season with Carolina in 2000.

When asked if he faced adversity growing up, Tre' said some came from being compared to his dad.

"My dad played in the NFL, so people were always asking me if I was going to be a football player," Tre' said. "But my parents just always wanted me to be responsible and make good grades. Nothing comes easy.

"Here at Texas, we have to work on our academics, work hard at practice. But my parents have always said if you work hard, good things will happen for you."

Tre' gets asked all the time how he can be a fast-moving running back at 200 pounds when his father was a hulking offensive lineman who tipped the scales well over 300 pounds. Tre' laughs and says he takes after his mother, Dorothy, a collegiate volleyball player at University of Southern Louisiana in Lafayette.

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES

Tre', who lists his sports hero as Michael Irvin, a teammate of his father's with the Cowboys, said his dad is still a talker.

"My dad's always talking," Tre' said. "He talks a lot. Whenever he calls, I always know I'm going to be on the phone for at least 30 minutes."

RISING STAR

Tre' Newton has everyone talking in Austin, including his coaches.

"We've been very pleased with Tre'," said offensive coordinator Greg Davis. "What you all have seen from him the last two games, we've been seeing in practice."

Added Mack Brown, "Tre' has earned the right to get more snaps."

Offensive guard Charlie Tanner said he "loves blocking for Tre.

"Tre runs the ball so hard," Tanner said. "I love watching him run."

Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy said Newton's success isn't a surprise.

"He played with a lot of confidence last year on scout team," Muckelroy said. "You could tell when he got a chance, he was going to show people what he could do."

Tre' said his confidence comes from the way running backs coach Major Applewhite prepares the players.

"Confidence only comes when you're prepared," he said. "And Coach Applewhite always has us prepared."

Newton also learned a lot from watching Ogbonnaya as a redshirt freshman last season.

"Chris Ogbonnaya taught me a lot," Newton said. "He was really mature and good with his academics. He taught me how to balance both the academics and football. He came out to work and he worked real hard every day in practice, and I guess I picked that up from him."

Newton said while the running backs are competing hard against each other, they also encourage each other.

"The running back room is totally supportive," Newton said. "Whoever is in the game, we're cheering for them to succeed because it means the team is succeeding."

IT'S IN HIS BLOOD

Contrary to what most might believe, Tre' said his dad wasn't in any hurry for him to play football.

"My dad didn't really want me to play football until the seventh grade," Tre' said. "But I talked him into letting me play in the third grade.

"He just always wanted to make sure I had fun. Now, when he calls he asks about my grades and how I'm doing in school. He just really wants to make sure me and my little brother don't make some of the same mistakes he made."

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