Wearing His Heart On His Sleeve: Tyler Newsome lives his life on and off the field with the same positive attitude, no matter what life throws his way
Tobias Hoonhout | Friday, November 9, 2018
Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 21 edition of The Observer.
Tyler Newsome doesn’t always get the chance to produce with the game on the line.
But this past Saturday, with five seconds left in the game, the graduate student captain was tasked with punting from deep in Irish territory to seal the win. And while it may be more consistent than placekicking, punting’s end product is not always a guarantee — just ask Newsome about NC State over the last two seasons. But one kick later, the Commodores were faced with scoring from their own 10-yard line with the clock expired.
While the results aren’t always as good as last Saturday’s, one thing that has never changed is Newsome’s mentality about punting.
“I was glad to do my job. You’ve got 10 other guys doing their job, and I’m just a puzzle piece, one out of 11,” he said. “ … I have the same mindset every time, whether it is good or bad, the most important one is the one I’m on. So if it is bad, I still go out there with the confidence that the next one is going to be a boot anyways. I don’t let the bad ones get to me or anything like that. The same as the good ones, you can’t get the good ones get to you, because if you’re thinking about that you’re not aware of what’s currently going on.
“Lou Holtz said it, ‘What’s important now?’ You have to be aware of where you are and you have to be aware of where your feet are, the good and bad. That last game wouldn’t have been a good game had I messed up the last punt, so I’m just focusing really on the one I’m on.”
Living life in the “now” has played a huge role in getting Newsome to where he is today. In high school, his blossoming career was put on hold after he was involved in a serious car accident that left him hospitalized for over two weeks. And on the field, he did little punting, serving mostly as a placekicker. It took a last-minute invite to punt in a summer camp at Notre Dame for Newsome to even get a chance to show what he could do, and despite the lack of experience, he earned himself a scholarship. In many ways, Newsome has embraced the adversity thrown his way.
“The mentality that I’ve always had, even since I was younger and high school, is nothing is given to you, everything is earned. And if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will,” Newsome said. “So for me, I didn’t really care what anybody has to say negatively because I believe in myself and I know what this team is capable of, I know what I’m capable of, so even when I was younger and I told myself, ‘Look, I don’t care that I haven’t punted in a game, I’m coming here to compete.’ I got an email from Notre Dame, so that must mean that I still have a chance, even if that chance would have been one percent of the time. You never know if you don’t try, and fortunately enough God blessed me to get to be here at this University, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
With such a combination of hunger and humility, Newsome has been able to master the art of punting, which in many ways is one of the most mentally tough positions on the team.
“I mean sometimes you’re not hitting the ball like you want to be hitting the ball, but I really don’t let that get to me because it’s not going to do me any good, it’s not going to do the team any good. If I have poor body language and am feeling bad about myself that’s not going to help anybody out,” he said. “So even if I’m not having my best day I’m not going to let that physically or outwardly affect me because it’s not going to help anybody out at all. I still have to bring the same energy.
“ … You can’t let good or bad affect you, you just have to focus on the one that you’re on. And if it is poor, you have to analyze it and know what’s going on so you can make adjustments.”
Such an approach to the game hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially among Newsome’s teammates. This past spring, he was voted as one of Notre Dame’s captains for the season, the first full-time Irish punter to ever earn such a distinction. For Newsome, it was an opportunity to implement the wisdom he’d gleaned from past peers and mentors.
“All of the teammates I’ve throughout my time here at Notre Dame have influenced me in some way, shape or fashion,” he said. “I think about when I first got here you had leaders like [former Irish captains] Austin Collinsworth, Cam McDaniel, you saw guys who did it right, and you saw guys that cared … you have guys that you see that just work. I could go on and on about different guys. … For me as I’ve gotten older, any time a young guy or anybody wants to get work in, in that kind of situation I’m always there, because it’s going to better this team.”
Ultimately, through all the ups and downs, Newsome’s biggest goal as a player and leader has never changed — showing others how to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
“For me, it’s just one of those things that I’d want to be the leader that I would want to look up to when I was a freshman, that I would want to look at and say ‘Hey, he’s the guy that’s representing Notre Dame,’ and for me, that’s something that I think about a lot,” he said. “I just want to be a good representation of Notre Dame, throughout all aspects, on and off the field. If I can be an example for the young guys and the older guys and they say ‘He’s a good representation of Notre Dame,’ that would mean the most to me.”