Arkeel Newsome has been to UConn about seven times during his career at Ansonia High, whether for a football camp or official and unofficial visits.
So he's quite familiar with the coaching carousel that has surrounded the football program in Storrs.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Newsome is the Connecticut high school career leader in rushing yards (10,672), touchdowns (187) and points (1,162) — and that state list includes a long line of talented runners, including some from Ansonia. In 2013, Newsome rushed for a state-record 3,867 yards. He had 68 TDs.
If you break all that down, two key stats pop out: Newsome rushed for more than 11 yards per carry in his career and scored a touchdown about every five times he touched the ball.
For his efforts, Newsome on Friday was named to the Parade All-America team and was one of three players Parade and the NFL invited to attend the Hall of Fame luncheon Friday in New York.
On the September day UConn fired Paul Pasqualoni, the coach to whom Newsome had orally committed, Newsome wasn't quite sure what would happen.
"When I first heard it, I was in school and one of the teachers was telling me about it," Newsome recalled. "I was like, 'Wow, really?' and I thought it might affect my scholarship. But I've met the new coach, Coach [Bob] Diaco. He's real cool. I like him a lot and the staff is real cool."
The only other scholarship offer Newsome had was from struggling UMass, but it's fair to say that if he had reopened the process, there would have been more options.
"For me, it was more about the school, but the staff had something to do with it too and of course the players," Newsome said. "They made me feel at home up there, and staying home means a lot to me. My family, everyone can come see me, but really I just wanted to play in my home state. I enjoyed myself every time I went up there, and going to the games, I loved the environment."
Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said he was impressed with Diaco.
"I think he was great, real diligent, has great passion for the game," Brockett said. "He seemed to have a real clear-cut vision for the program, and I think kids are really going to like him when he walks into their building. I know Arkeel likes him a lot."
Newsome spent time with quarterback Casey Cochran, another state product (Masuk-Monroe) and another state record holder.
"We talked about staying home and that it was great that I decided to go there," Newsome said. "We talked about throwing the ball around sometime."
Newsome led the nation in rushing as a sophomore and as a senior. He led Ansonia to three consecutive state titles and is listed as a three-star recruit (out of a possible five) by rivals.com. Scout.com also gives him three stars.
"A lot of times, having that kind of success, they'll level off, but his work ethic allowed him to get better every year, which is difficult to do," Brockett said. "There's the complacency part of it, the big-head part of it that may get them in trouble, and that's the case in some stories. There's a reason why there really hasn't been a three-time state player of the year. He's unbelievably special at a young age but then to maintain that and never have that drop off I think is a great tribute."
And every day, Brockett said, Newsome does something to perfect his craft.
"I just always strived for more, always tried to be the best I can," Newsome said.
For those who haven't seen Newsome?
"I think he's going to be a lot tougher than what people expect," Brockett said. "You know you hear he's not like a Barry Sanders–type guy. It's not like Barry Sanders wasn't a tough guy, but [Arkeel is] not a kid who's going to dance as much as you would expect. He's going to make some moves that will make you say whoa, but he has that great ability to put his foot in the ground and make that unbelievable cut but I think he's going to run the ball between the tackles much better than people expect."