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Los Angeles Chargers undrafted rookie spotlight: RB Detrez Newsome

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive back Jordan Diggs #42 and running back Darius Paulk #30 of the South Carolina Gamecocks knock the ball out of the hands of running back Detrez Newsome #21 of the Western Carolina Catamounts during a kickoff return on November 19, 2016 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive back Jordan Diggs #42 and running back Darius Paulk #30 of the South Carolina Gamecocks knock the ball out of the hands of running back Detrez Newsome #21 of the Western Carolina Catamounts during a kickoff return on November 19, 2016 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
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The Los Angeles Chargers currently have five running backs on the roster and for the most part, you’re likely pretty familiar with at least three of them. Now it’s time to get to know one of the others.

The Chargers don’t have a big, bruising runner on the roster, instead opting to shape their running game around athletic slashers who can catch the ball out of the backfield and make a difference on third down.

Undrafted rookie Detrez Newsome fits that mold.

Born in Raeford, North Carolina, Newsome attended Western Carolina University where he was one of the best overall players in school history. During his time there, he posted 3,728 yards on the ground, good for second all-time in program history. He also scored 46 touchdowns, more than any Catamount player ever.

Newsome will offer versatility to the Chargers’ backfield as he is an elusive back who averaged six yards per carry in college. But he can also chip in as a receiver, as evidenced by the 109 passes he hauled in at Western Carolina. He also averaged 8.8 yards per reception.

Though he stands just 5’10, he would routinely make the first man miss, getting every inch of yardage he could on pretty much every carry he had. Though he didn’t receive the kind of workload that fellow rookie Justin Jackson did in college, he still averaged 155 carries per season and over 14 carries per game.

The level of competition Newsome went up against at Western Carolina may be the biggest knock on him, but he still had solid outings against top programs such as North Carolina, Texas A&M, Tennessee and South Carolina, each of which he ran for over 100 yards against.

This is certainly a player to keep your eye on this summer.

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My Take

I am big on both Austin Ekeler and Jackson and I actually see Newsome as having a similar path to the league as Ekeler, an undersized running back who came from a small school as an undrafted rookie last season.

Newsome is one of those guys who is going to stand out in preseason games against third and fourth-string defenders, convincing the team that there is something to work with for the future.

I actually think Newsome has a better chance to stick with the team than the other running back on the roster, Russell Hansbrough. He has deceptive quickness and his ability to get extra yards after contact will help him earn a long look this summer.

I predict that Newsome lands a spot on the team’s practice squad and with only three running backs on the 53-man roster, he’ll have a good chance to see some regular-season action before the end of the year.

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