Aledo (Texas) standout receiver Ryan Newsome has his top five schools and he has already scheduled his official visits.
In late June, Newsome released a top five of Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and UCLA. He did not name any leaders or frontrunners out of his final group, and not much has changed since he narrowed his list.
"They're pretty much even. I haven't taken a visit to Notre Dame yet so they're still all even. What makes the five so hard is because all of them are all really good schools and they present really good opportunities for me. So it makes it that much harder to have a leader because they all have really good opportunities for me."
Newsome may be listed as a receiver, but he brings plenty of versatility to the table. He is one of the most accomplished punt and kick returners on the high school level, and his skillset has sparked the imagination of the coaches among his top five.
"Like Oregon wants me to play a little running back," Newsome said. "They like how physical I am and I like to run between the tackles sometimes too. I've shown that ability on my highlight tape so they feel like they can use players like me in that way. So Oregon wants to use me as kind of a DeAnthony Thomas-type guy.
"UCLA, they want me to be a receiver primarily but they want me to play some running back and do some trick plays at quarterback as well. UT is the same way. They all pretty much want to utilize me as much as they can in that fashion."
He may not be ready to name one school his leader, but one coaching staff, or one coach, has certainly made a deep impression on Newsome's mind.
"I have a really good relationship with all the coaches," Newsome said. "I think one thing about the five schools is the schools recruit me as a whole, so I hear from everybody. I even hear from the director of player personnel from time to time. So it's like they make sure I'm a priority.
"But Jim Mora at UCLA, he's a great guy. He's definitely made me a priority for him. He's just a different kind of guy in general. He's one that just really cares about his program and players, and he's just a real good guy. You listen to guys all the time talk about Jim Mora and the guy he is. One of the first things they say is he is a great person, and that's really a big deal for me because I didn't want to be the only one who thought that way. I guess it's some security to having other guys think that same way about him. It just speaks to the kind of person he is and the direction he is taking the program.
"He's a great guy. it was evident when I went down to UCLA and got to meet him. He's the same exact way I thought he would be and that trickles down from the head coach to the rest of the staff. They're awesome guys."
There's another reason coach Mora, and a couple of other head coaches have caught his attention.
He spearheads my recruitment. Most colleges have primary recruiters for an area and he doesn't really care. I'll hear from him every other day. He'll have me call him and we'll just talk. Yeah it sticks out because he spearheads it. But Charlie Strong he spearheads my recruitment too. It's kind of like even with those two schools with coaches who stand out. And coach Helfrich, he's awesome. So the theme of my five schools is they're awesome guys, people, coaches, they all really care about the players. I wanted to make sure that was a priority for me first and foremost."
As he begins to take his visits, he will likely zero in on a few more aspects of each school which catch his attention, but when it comes to his deciding factor it really boils down to one important overall factor.
"You know after I go on my five official visits I'll have a better idea, but basically just a place I'll ultimately fit," Newsome said. "Just a place I can see myself without football and have some good times and basically having the overall college experience you want to experience while you're there. And I don't want it to be a place I really can't stand while I'm outside of the season. So I'm just looking for a place that will fit me as a person and as an athlete all the way around."
With his top five already decided the question now turns to when he plans to trim his list further, and Newsome already has an idea about his answer.
"After my five official visits," Newsome said. "After my five, I will narrow it down to three. And then after three, I'll probably do the hat thing. I'll have three hats on the table and pick my school from there. But I'm going to take all five official visits first before I decide on anything."
He also has an idea about when he will be making his announcement.
"One of the All-American games and if I decide not to I'll probably hold like a little press conference thing at one of the venues out here or at my church or in the Dallas-Fort Worth-area," Newsome said. "I'll probably do something like that, but the plan is to announce it at an All-American game. So that's what I plan to do. I know that's always been my plan to do it that way."
Newsome has a full slate of official visits which will include many top gameday atmospheres across country. His first stop will be to Notre Dame on September 5, the weekend the Irish host Michigan. The second stop on the tour will be to UCLA on October 10, as the Bruins prepare to take on the Oregon Ducks. The next week he will visit Texas for the Longhorns' match-up with Iowa State. A Halloween visit to Oregon is on the schedule next with Stanford heading to Eugene as well. Then he will close out his official visit schedule with a trip to Norman, Okla., for a November visit as the Sooners host Baylor.
Newsome also plans to take an unofficial visit to Texas on July 18.
"After Texas I think I'll most likely be done," Newsome said. "I don't know though something could pop up. It will probably be late notice if I decide to take another visit somewhere this summer."