Huskies' Best New Face? It's High-Falutin Newton

Dan Raley

Richard Newton scored Washington's first touchdown of the season. Just four and a half minutes into the opener against Eastern Washington, the redshirt freshman barreled into the end zone from 23 yards out.

Huskies fans shouldn't have been faulted had they asked, "Who?" They know him now. 

Newton didn't start a game, and even missed three midseason outings with a leg injury, but he leads the UW in touchdowns with 10, all but one coming on rushes.

For being able to finish on a team that's had its troubles doing just that, the physical 6-foot, 210-pound running back from Palmdale, California, represents the Huskies' best freshman newcomer in 2019. 

"He is a downhill, physical runner," offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said (heard in the accompanying video). "There's a mindset he brings."

Fellow redshirt freshman Edefuan Ulofoshio likewise has made inroads on the UW defense, taking over as the starter at inside linebacker for the past two games and bringing a noticeable upgrade in team speed. He ranks sixth on the team in tackles with 43, including three sacks.

True freshman Puka Nacua has left a noticeable impression, as well. He started three games at wide receiver and caught 7 passes for 168 yards and 2 TDs before suffering a season-ending broken foot in practice. 

While each of these guys has brought something different to the Huskies, Newton has done it more often. 

Besides the opening score, he led the Huskies in rushing in the season opener against Eastern, piling up 91 yards on 12 carries in a 44-14 win. 

Against Hawaii at Husky Stadium, he scored three times, on runs of 5, 1 and 8 yards, in a 52-20 victory. 

Newton caught a 17-yard scoring pass from Jacob Eason and ran for a 3-yard score in a 45-19 win at BYU.

He scored the game's first touchdown on a 1-yard run, coming 11 minutes into play and setting the tone, in a 28-14 victory over USC (the play is shown in this video below). 

"I see Rich running hard and I'm like, 'I need to run harder,' " said UW starting running back Salvon Ahmed, a 1,000-yard rusher this season. 

Often lining up in the Wildcat formation, with Eason in motion or standing on the sideline watching, Newton, a one-time quarterback, has picked up 429 yards rushing on 102 carries, second on the team.

By now, fans have seen plenty of this hard-running guy, but they still don't know much about him. The UW, in most cases, doesn't permit its younger players to take part in interviews. He has yet to be heard or quoted.

Newton sat out his freshman year for the Huskies while recovering from shoulder surgery. He missed parts of two seasons in high school because of injuries, limiting the recruiting attention sent his way. Without much fanfare, he picked Washington over Utah. 

He wears No. 28, the same number that turned a freshman named Jacque Robinson into a late-season sensation, Rose Bowl MVP and a Husky legend. 

Newton is off to a promising start, with a chance to make a lot of things happen in his UW career.

"We've felt really good about him," Huskies coach Chris Petersen said.