Tyler Newsome feature

Mr. Genuine

Oftentimes there are negative words and phrases used to describe salespeople — pushy, fake and obnoxious to name a few. A reference to slicked back hair might also be thrown in there, and no doubt there’s been some truth to that throughout the years. But Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome, who plans on turning to a sales position of some sort after his days of football have come to an end, will certainly fail to resemble any of those stereotypes.

In fact, the fifth-year senior from Carrollton, Georgia, is always personable and genuine and polite to a fault. But that’s just Newsome being himself.

“I still kind of go to the beat of my own music,” Newsome said. “I always say if I wasn’t being the best version of myself I’d just be a second-rate version of someone else I suppose.”

And, while it might have surprised some that Newsome was named a captain back in March — and thus becoming the first captain at Notre Dame to exclusively be a punter — those inside the football program knew exactly what they were getting. It goes beyond the raw numbers a player produces on the field, and Newsome was as good an example as anyone on the team when it came to possessing the intangibles of a good leader.

“It’s a blessing because to whom much is given much is expected,” Newsome noted. “For me I think it’s been a big wake-up call and realizing that I need to be consistent for this team. I haven’t let my leadership change just because I have a ‘C’ on my chest. I never thought that I needed that to be a leader but I’m grateful that I have it. So I’m just the same guy who’s there for the team when the team needs me, and just try to bring the same intensity to everything I do.”

“You’ve got to understand … he got 51 percent of the votes,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said after the announcement that Newsome was named a captain along with center Sam Mustipher and linebacker Drue Tranquill. “Where Sam and Drue benefit from a unit they’re with, (Tyler) has four guys he’s with … to get that kind of vote as a punter sends a strong message about how he’s looked at by his peers.”

That’s not to say that Newsome isn’t productive on the field. Quite the opposite. He ranks in the top 10 in seven categories in the Irish record books, including first in single-game punt average (52.4 yards vs. UMass in 2015) and second in career punt average (43.9 yards). But Newsome is less concerned about any individual accolade or moment in an Irish uniform, and more interested in the overall experience for both himself and his teammates.

“I’ve really just tried to focus on the team and winning,” Newsome said. “Any other individual accolades that come along with that are just part of the ride I guess. But that’s definitely not my main goal which is just to be 1-0 on Saturday night. At the end of the day when Notre Dame wins everybody wins, and I feel like if I do my job we’ll have a good chance to get that done. So for me, my mindset now is just focusing on each individual punt that’s in front of me knowing that, good or bad, the most important one is the next one.

“And there have been a lot of them after almost four-and-a-half years now. So it’s hard to pick any one (memorable moment) other than just being able to be a part of the team with the highs and the lows and really just having this brotherhood is something I will never forget and cherish for the rest of my life.”

Away from his football brethren, Newsome is also the model for giving back to the community. A severe car accident in high school landed him in the hospital for 17 days with a broken tailbone, hip, elbow ribs and back, a lacerated spleen and a serious concussion. During that time he had the opportunity to reflect on how he’d like to live his life going forward.

“For me, going back to the car accident, it’s made me cherish each day,” Newsome said. “And I made a promise to my 16-year-old self that if I do ever have an opportunity to lead and give back to the community … that’s something that I hold close to my heart and make sure that I do. Here at Notre Dame we have such a platform to give back and really just try to be role models for this community.”

For Newsome, the list of organizations he’s been involved with is long and varied: Make-A-Wish, Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Chicago Backpack Donation, South Bend Center for the Homeless, Locks of Love, Lift for Life, Roof Sit 2016 and Football 101. And, through the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County, he started mentoring a 12-year-old boy during which a special bond formed between the pair.

“He’s a great kid and we kind of just kept hanging out,” Newsome said. “We get a bite to eat, he tells me about his week, we’ve been fishing a few times … nothing out of the ordinary. But I say this knowing I have younger eyes on me and it makes me aware of everything I do. So I want to be the example I would’ve wanted to look up to when I was younger. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you’re working on with school and it’s just very humbling to know that doing all these things makes you realize the world is so much bigger than yourself.”

Newsome, who graduated in May with a degree in marketing and a minor in sustainability from the Mendoza College of Business, also recently had the chance to pass along some of the things he learned in the classroom

“One of my favorite things was that I got to teach some of the local kids about sustainability,” Newsome related. “I was volunteering at the Robinson (Community Learning) Center (in South Bend) with another student from Notre Dame and we talked to kids about sustainability. We had a big presentation and all their parents came, so that was very memorable for me.”

As a non-degree seeking graduate student, Newsome will be finished with school in December once classes have come to an end for the semester. Beyond that a sales position will wait but not until he’s at least taken a shot at the NFL. Either way, he’s aware of his shortening time under the Golden Dome.

“If it’s in God’s plans for me to play at the next level I would love to do it,” Newsome said. “But if it should be that my last down of football was played at Notre Dame … it’s been a dream come true for me.

“That just makes me appreciate everything knowing this is all I have left at the best university in the world. So I guess I’m making sure that I cherish all of it.”