Newsome Ready For Whatever It Takes To Land In NFL
Playing football is important to Dazz Newsome.
The former North Carolina wide receiver spent four seasons in Chapel Hill, racking up 2,435 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in 44 games for the Tar Heels. The Hampton, VA, native’s best season came during his junior campaign in 2019 where he had 72 receptions for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns, all career highs.
Following UNC’s 8-3 regular season finish in 2021, Newsome could have opted out of the Orange Bowl along with fellow teammates and NFL hopefuls Dyami Brown, Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, and Chazz Surratt, but chose not to.
In Newsome’s own words, he is a “ball player,” so there was no way he was going to miss the Tar Heels’ first major bowl appearance since 1950, even if he had to risk injury ahead of the draft.
And, after catching the ball six times for 68 yards and one touchdown in the loss to the Aggies, his willingness to play hasn’t gone unnoticed by NFL scouts and general managers.
“They said they can see how much I love the game on film,” Newsome said. “How much I like to block and really how much I just like to put my head down, how I’m fearless.”
While his love for the game of football fuels his performances on the field, Newsome also has love for something much bigger than a sport: his daughter.
Her name, Yelaina, is even tattooed across his neck and is a daily reminder that making it at the next level is bigger than just him.
Yelaina, now two years old, lives back home in Virginia and is surrounded by a support system of her mother and grandparents on both sides. They look after her while Newsome chases his dream of playing in the NFL.
“It’s been kinda tough, I haven’t been able to see my daughter as much as I can,” Newsome said. “I just saw her when I went back home the last two days, but before then, I probably didn’t see her for like a month or two, other than FaceTime.”
Of course, in an ideal world, his family would be right there alongside him as he prepares for the draft, but that is not the reality he is living in. Still, Newsome is thankful for the support system that he has around him because, without them, he admits chasing his dreams may not be possible.
“My support system is great,” Newsome said. “My family helps me out a lot with my daughter. The mother of my child, she can’t do it all, she has to go to work and stuff like that, so that’s where my family comes into play.
“My mom helps me out a lot, my dad helps me out a lot and really her mom, too. So really, my support system, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”
With a strong foundation underneath him, Newsome’s primary focus over the last few months has been trying to show NFL teams why they shouldn’t pass him up. Watch Newsome’s highlights from college and there are a few things that stand out about his game.
Although he plays primarily in the slot, Newsome is a versatile player. He returned punts for UNC throughout his career in Chapel Hill as well as returned kicks, something that should bode well for him as he transitions to the next level.
Being primarily a special teams specialist can earn you an NFL roster spot. Need proof? Look no further than former UNC wideout Ryan Switzer, who played at Carolina from 2013 to 2016 and was a first-team All-American punt returner as a freshman.
Currently a member of the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad, Switzer has seen action in 41 games during his career with four different teams but has only caught 50 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown.
Look at his kick and punt return numbers, however, and it reveals why Switzer has been able to carve out a solid NFL career. Switzer has a combined 130 returns for 1,910 yards and one touchdown. Not too bad for a player that, on film, has a lot of similar attributes to Newsome.
Being a return specialist is not for everyone though and, according to Newsome, you must have certain characteristics to be successful.
“I think, number one, you have to be fearless,” Newsome said. “You can’t be scared about dropping it or scared about getting hit. I think that’s the most important thing is being fearless and being confident.”
While most NFL teams are looking at Newsome as a receiver, he has the confidence to play any whatever position a team wants. His belief alone could play a major factor in him making a team this fall.
“Mostly I’ve been hearing in the slot,” Newsome said. “They’ve been asking me if I can go outside, I tell them, ‘Yea, for sure.’ I can do anything they want to put me at. I can play running back, slot, returner, I can do it all.”
Most recently, Newsome showcased his skills during UNC’s Pro Day on March 29, running routes and catching passes in front of scouts from all 32 NFL teams. Also watching him was former 16-year NFL veteran Steve Smith, who was there covering pro day for the NFL Network.
Having Smith there to watch was a special experience for Newsome as the former Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens receiver is someone he looks up to.
“I’m a huge fan of Steve Smith,” Newsome said. “That is one of my favorite all-time receivers. I just liked how he’s competitive and he’s really just a dog.”
Smith even shared some words of encouragement with Newsome before the workouts started.
“I talked to him after he was on the way here and he really gave me some good knowledge, just told me what I need to work on,” Newsome said after his workout. “He was just really straight up with me.”
As the NFL Draft creeps closer, Newsome is hoping to continue to impress teams in hopes of hearing his name called sometime between April 29 and May 1. Most NFL mock drafts have Newsome as a day three pick, with the Buffalo Bills rumored to have a strong interest in the former All-ACC receiver.
For whatever organization comes calling, Newsome has a simple message for his future coach.
“Honestly, there’s not much he has to say to get the best out of me,” Newsome said. “He’s gonna get the best out of me regardless.”
Whether it is his love for the game, his daughter, or the support system that wants nothing more than to see him succeed, football just means more to Newsome and that may go a long way in him earning a roster spot come September.