September 15, 2017
Senior linebacker Marcus Newby participated in his first football scrimmage in the third grade, playing quarterback for a football team near his hometown of Gaithersburg, Md. Newby remembers taking his first hit that game, coming off the field crying to his dad and telling him he never wanted to play again.
“My dad just kept pushing me,” Newby recalled. “‘You’re going to go back out there. I don’t care if you like it or not.’”
Since that day, Newby’s dad, mom and four brothers became the base of support for his football career. Growing up, he came home from school with grass-stained jeans and dirt-covered hands from blackout football with his older brothers. After starting every varsity game his sophomore year of high school, his coach told him he could go even further with the game, and Newby never looked back.
Newby committed to Nebraska before he started his senior season at Quince Orchard High School, and since moving here, his family is still pushing him forward from more than 1,000 miles away.
“My dad’s just always telling me, ‘Keep focused, know why you’re there and what you’ve got to focus on,’” Newby said. “The highs and lows, he’s always somebody to talk to, motivate me. He always encourages me and keeps me in the right direction.”
The 6-1, 235-pound Newby has made 12 starts and totaled more than 70 tackles in his career thus far, including a career-high 10 stops last week. He tied the Nebraska linebacker record with four pass breakups against Wisconsin in 2015 and is a leader among the linebacking corps this season. Newby, a three-time Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer Citizenship Team member, said the transition to leader has been natural.
“Especially it being my last year and me being a senior, I think I can lead the younger guys in the right direction,” he said. “Not [just] on the field, off the field too. Showing them the right way to go and showing them around, what steps to take if you’re doing bad or if you’re taking the wrong steps in that direction, making them go forward.”
Nebraska linebacker coach Trent Bray said Newby’s physical ability has been able to enhance his leadership role for a young group of linebackers.
“I think it’s been great for him and our team.” Bray said. “He’s been a guy that’s played a lot of football for us over the past couple years and then he’s stepping into a new and more advanced role. He’s a guy that brings a physical presence. He’s a dominant player when it comes to taking on blocks and making tackles and really shutting down an opponent’s run game, and so I think that’s probably the biggest thing he brings to us.”
Newby has always had something to play for on the field, the main thing often being family. This season, he has one more person to play for.
“My passions [outside of football] changed,” Newby said. “I have a five-month-old daughter named Sophia, and so I try to be the best dad as possible I can be to her when I’m outside of football. Taking care of her, playing with her, walking her, just showing her. For me, my girlfriend and her, my passion is just loving them to death and being around them and just trying to be the best dad as possible.”
After the season, Newby’s goal is to play in the NFL, but his backup plan would be related to his degree in ethnic studies, either having to do with juvenile probation or another hands-on industry. But for now, his eyes are on competing for a Big Ten Championship and giving everything he has in each game it takes to get there.
“As a whole defense, with Coach Diaco coming in, we feel comfortable with everything,” Newby said. “We have the players to make plays, make big plays, make stops. That’s my biggest goal: to get that trophy, get that Big Ten trophy and go from there.”