Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Tre' Newton's has had several relatives play along the lines and at linebacker in collegiate and professional football, which inevitably leads to the same question being asked of the sophomore running back: "How come you ended up quick and not bigger?"
Newton, who stands six-feet tall and weighs 200 pounds, is quick himself to answer. He gives credit to his mom, Dorothy, not only for his size, but for his moves on the field as well.
"My mom played volleyball (at Louisiana-Lafayette) so I think I got some of that quickness from her," Newton said. "She wasn't big like my dad so I think I got a lot of that quickness from her."
In his third year at Texas, Newton has developed into a productive player. After running for 552 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Longhorns in rushing as a redshirt freshman in 2009, Newton is a key component of a group of running backs this season.
And while his size, quickness and ability to find the holes have turned him into one of the top backs on the Texas roster, he knows his mom's contributions go much further than the football field.
Growing up, Newton football was a constant. His father Nate was an All-Pro offensive lineman and two uncles played professional football.
"You know the little football men on birthday cakes, those little men?" his mother Dorothy said. "He was always obsessed [with those] and that became his favorite toy. From the age of three I could see that the drive was there, mainly for football, but really it was all sports. He was just driven to learn more and more, even as a child."
Whether it was football, basketball or taekwondo, Newton wanted to be the best, but unlike most young athletes, he did not care where he played, he just wanted to win.
"As a pee wee player, even in high school, he never, ever cared what position he played, and I always thought that was amazing," Dorothy said. "Even in college, if they had changed his position, he didn't care because we talked about that and he never cared, he just loved the game and wanted to play."
As Tre' got older, his skills on the football field continued to develop, but Dorothy knew that her children's education was more valuable than their athletic opportunities, so she moved her family from North Richland Hills to Southlake, a Dallas suburb. However, while the educational opportunities were the reason for moving, his opportunity on the football field took off.
Tre' would finish high school as a four-year starter, three-time all-state selection and three-time state champion at Southlake Carroll, one of the top high school programs in Texas. That success and exposure led to college football opportunities.
As the Newtons began to participate in the recruiting process, Dorothy made it clear from the beginning what she wanted for her son. Attending a great football school was a plus, but selecting a university with excellent academics and a great overall environment was most important.
"My mom didn't really care about the football part as much as she wanted to know the coaching staff and academics," Tre' said. "Academics are real big with both of my parents, but especially my mom. She just wanted to make sure the academics were right and I went to a school that would help me even after I was done playing football."
Dorothy remembers Tre' narrowing his selection to two schools. One was Texas, even though at the time he did not have a scholarship offer.
"He said that if he could not go to one of those two schools then he would try to really work hard for academics, even though he loved football," Dorothy said. "He told me, 'If they offer me a scholarship, I really want to go to UT.'"
When the Longhorns offered a scholarship, Tre' accepted immediately.
"You just want the best for a person when you know their desire, and he has great work ethic, not just with football, but with school," Dorothy said.
"Coach Ruck [Mike Rucker] was the one that recruited me and he's a real strong Christian man, and that's important to my mom and our whole family, so that kind of sealed the deal," Tre' said. "I felt Texas had a closer-knit family, the coaches really care about you. They care about football of course like we all do, but they also care about your life after football and you as a person."
Three years since committing to the Longhorns, Dorothy knows her son made the right decision. She enjoys hearing about her son's college experiences, on and off the field, and attends the majority of the Texas' games.
"He's been so happy, he's been extremely happy," Dorothy said. "I have not heard him complain about anything so I know it was a good choice. He's always at peace about it."
For Tre', having his mom close is important. Whether it's on or off the field, he knows he can still go to her for advice, but he knows a good game does not guarantee a free pass when it comes to mistakes.
"My mom was every bit as hard as my dad, even now," he said. "After a game I might have a great run or something like that and she'll be like, 'Why'd you trip and fall in the hole?'"
"Just to see him healthy and walking, that just gives me the greatest joy," Dorothy said. "But then I'll tell him, 'Tre', great job baby, I'm so proud of you, but now what's up with (your) game? Come on Tre', you've got to improve, baby.'"
Tre' wouldn't have it any other way.
"I have to have my mom there," Tre' said. "I want to have her at every game, I want her to see the good and the bad of everything. She is the most important [person] to me other than God."
Whether it is was hauling him to various sporting events growing up or trying to better her children's educational opportunities, Tre' knows the many sacrifices his mother has made throughout his childhood.
"My mom hardly ever put herself first above anybody," Tre' said. "She was always looking out to serve others. She taught me to always put God first, others second and yourself third. That's one thing she's always instilled in me."
But Dorothy knows Tre' has helped shape her over the years as well.
"Tre' is the type of person where you can't really talk about a whole lot, your actions have to show him meaning, you have to show him," Dorothy said. "He was just always looking and because I was always conscious and aware because he was that type of child, it just really helped me to be a better person and try and do the right things."
With more than half the season remaining, Tre' knows his mom will be doing most of the observing, keeping an eye on him from the stands.
"My mom means the world to me," Tre' said. "She's the strongest person that I know and just her servant-like attitude has taught me so much. I know I definitely wouldn't be the person I am today if she wasn't such an influence on my life.
"People always ask me who my role model is and she's definitely my role model, and I just thank God every day for blessing me with a mom like her."