In high school at Marlboro County and in college at South Carolina, Syvelle Newton had a knack for finding the end zone.
He’s still at it today. As a receiver with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, Newton is second on the team with 46 catches for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had seven catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 59-41 loss to Cleveland.
“That’s kind of been my thing,” Newton said. “Try to score touchdowns and put points on the board.”
Newton is in his second season in the AFL. He played six games last year with the Chicago Rush and caught 41 passes for 566 yards and 12 touchdowns.
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When coach Mike Hohensee left Chicago to take over the Soul, Newton followed him to Philladelphia.
Playing in the arena league isn’t what Newton had in mind coming out of USC, where he was known for his versatility. Newton is one of four players in college football history with more than 600 yards rushing, passing and receiving in his career.
Newton considered leaving for the pros following his junior year, but those thoughts ended when he tore his Achilles against Vanderbilt with five games remaining in the 2005 season.
During his senior season, Newton bounced around from quarterback to receiver and even played some on defense, moves that started to wear on him.
“That was probably the most frustrating part in my career,” said Newton, who is one class short of earning his degree at USC. “No one really explained why they moved me from offense to defensive back. I was frustrated with the program for a while. But you can’t hold grudges, and you got to move on with your career.”
Newton is one class short of earning his degree at USC. He was in Atlanta when the Gamecocks played Auburn for the SEC championship.
Newton would like a shot at the NFL, something that didn’t happen following his senior season. He trained with first-round picks Calvin Johnson and LaRon Landry. ESPN’s Todd McShay projected Newton as a late-round pick, but Newton went undrafted.
“It was very frustrating to see those guys get drafted and me not get drafted at all,” Newton said.
Newton signed with Toronto of the Canadian Football League after not being drafted but never played because the team they wanted to move him from receiver to quarterback. He had a couple of brief stints in other indoor leagues and was working on his career as a musician and at his uncle’s funeral home before he landed in the AFL.
Newton said says he still hopes get a chance to play in the NFL like his brother, Cam, did during two seasons with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. He said he has got his quickness back and is running a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash.
Newton’s season will end in August, and he hopes to get a tryout with an NFL team when the lockout ends. There also is a chance he could play in the United Football League, which begins in August.
“I’m still trying to get there,” Newton said of the NFL. “Hopefully a team will give me a shot. I know as soon as a team gives me an opportunity, I will have a long career in the NFL.”