Brandon Facyson and Deon Newsome are both hoping to make an impact in the Virginia Tech secondary this season, but they have taken drastically different paths to where they are now.
Newsome, a redshirt junior, has been a receiver since he arrived at Virginia Tech. Now, he’s playing safety, which is a pretty foreign concept to him.
“It’s something different for me,” Newsome said. “I haven’t played it in forever. I feel like I just need a couple of days to get back into it.”
Newsome said that he’s actually never played safety, and that he played outside linebacker in high school in Hampton, VA. Even though it’s a pretty drastic change for a player to make entering his third season on the field, Newsome is comfortable with the decision.
“I feel like I can be better for this team on defense,” Newsome said. “I feel like I need to make whatever happen, happen to make the team better.”
Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente knows that it’s a large adjustment for Newsome to make, but that he’s making that adjustment pretty well this offseason.
“Basically, you are going from going forward all the time to going backward,” Fuente said. “I think he will pick it up quickly. He seems to be taking to it fairly well. We will continue to evaluate that as we go through camp.”
“It’s coming pretty easy,” Newsome said. “I thought it was going to be hard.”
Newsome was never a conventional receiver at Virginia Tech. The Hokies have generally tried to use Newsome on screens and jet sweeps in order to get him the ball on the run and in space. Newsome says that he’s always felt a little bit of defense inside of him.
“I was a physical receiver, when it came to blocking and stuff like that,” Newsome said. “Hitting is not really a problem for me.”
“I always had that little defensive edge to me,” Newsome said. “I just wanted to do it my way and play offense. I’m actually happy someone forced me to do it their way. I think it might be a better outcome for me.”
Newsome has a huge resource as a roommate in senior safety Chuck Clark. The two have roomed together since their first season at Virginia Tech.
“Anytime I need any help or anything like that, I just ask him,” Newsome said. “Anytime he goes to workout, I go with him. It’s very convenient.”
Newsome, who said he’s been playing around 180-pounds during his career, hopes to get to 195-pounds for this season and that he looks forward to bringing his physicality to the secondary.
“Normally, if I’m getting like my jet sweep or something, I’m getting smashed by D-linemen coming out of there sometimes.,” Newsome said. “Now I have the chance to hit somebody and make them feel me.”
Facyson, on the other hand, has been a cornerback since he arrived and isn’t changing positions anytime soon. However, Facyson has battled injuries his entire career at Virginia Tech. Even with his injury history, Facyson finally feels 100 percent.
“It feels great, I just had to get back to where I knew I was,” Facyson said. “Just been working hard in the weight room and I’m in the training room every single day, just taking it one day at a time and try not to get too frustrated with everything. Just taking it a day at a time. Keep moving forward and not holding my head down.”
Facyson said that this offseason’s strength and conditioning program has really helped him recover and that he’s still adapting to the quick pace of practice, after missing the entire spring with knee surgery.
“They said it was fast, but I didn’t actually know how fast until I got out there,” Facyson said. “It’s really fast. That’s just the style we want to play. We need to play that way. That’s just how we’ve got to attack it every single day.”
He said the coaching staff has focused on preventing injuries and that he’s confident the program will keep his knee healthy.
“The coaches did a great job monitoring all of us and what we needed to work on,” Facyson said. “Like for me with my knee, we did a lot of isolation stuff and so on. The coaches did a great job with that and I appreciate them. I’m just going to do it every single day, not stop with my rehab, keep going with it. We do a lot of isolation stuff when it comes to injuries, but they did a great job with it this summer and this spring.”
Because Facyson missed the entire spring, Fuente hasn’t been able to see Facyson much. Fuente said that so far, the players who missed time this offseason are just moving right along.
“It is hard to tell right now. They looked fine out there right now,” Fuente said. “The few times that I paid specific attention to it, I felt like everyone was moving around pretty well. I have to really look at it to say something definitively.”
Even with a new coach, Facyson said that he, Newsome and the rest of the secondary are focused on turning things around on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re a tight group and we try to keep it that way,” Facyson said. “The whole team is a tight group. There’s no one divided on this team. We’ve made strides and we just want to keep progressing together.”