CLEARWATER — The youngest of the five Newton brothers, Jershaun, stood on Clearwater Central Catholic’s field Wednesday morning and grinned at the memory of him and his brothers knocking the stuffing out of each other.
It was something they did pretty much every day while playing football in their backyard — after football practice. “We’d keep playing until somebody would get mad after too many hard hits,” said Jershaun, the Marauders’ sophomore quarterback. “But no matter what, I always wanted to keep playing.”
Jershaun’s father, Jervon, also known as “Big Newton,” said that sometimes Jershaun, the youngest brother by four years, would go inside crying after getting creamed by his much larger brothers.
“I’d tell Jershaun, ‘Now, you just go out there and keep playing,’ " Jervon said. “And he’d wipe his face and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to.’ And then he would run right back out there and keep going.”
Jershaun has never really stopped, and no matter how tough things might get, he has never backed down.
It seems that growing up the youngest of the Newtons — his brothers are identical 24-year-old twins Jervon and Jerquan, 21-year-old Jerjuan and 20-year-old Jer’Zhan — has made 16-year-old Jershaun tough and gifted.
“Jershaun is the ‘Best Show on Turf,’ " says his father, who once played multiple positions at Boca Ciega. “His brothers finally say the same.”
That’s high praise considering that all the other Newton brothers starred at CCC and played in college. Jervon and Jerquan finished this season at linebacker and running back, respectively, at Mars Hill University in North Carolina. Jerquan is a sophomore receiver at Toledo, and Jer’Zhan is a sophomore defensive tackle at Illinois.
CCC coach Chris Harvey, who one year coached the first four Newtons at the same time, said the boys have different strengths — one is stronger, another is faster, another has better hand-eye coordination, and so on.
“But the funny thing about Jershaun is that he’s a combination of all the good things in all his brothers,” Harvey said. “I guess maybe it’s because he got to watch them grow up and play with them (in the backyard) and learn from them. Growing up the youngest, I think, also makes him extra competitive.”
Displaying an impressive mix of speed (he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds), strength, quickness, sight and instincts, the 6-foot, 205-pound Jershaun has completed 109 of 161 passes for 1,822 yards and 20 touchdowns, with only one interception, while rushing 115 times for 1,046 yards and 13 scores.
Most important to Jershaun, CCC compiled a 10-1 record against a tough schedule and plays in a Class 1M region final Friday night against Carrollwood Day School (6-3).
His teammates say he is also a leader.
“Without a doubt, Jershaun is a confident player, and that confidence rubs off on all of us,” senior defensive lineman Noah Vick said. “But his confidence is not something that ever rolls over into cockiness. He’s humble, and he leads by example. He truly is the first guy at practice and the last to leave. He never complains. All of that makes him a great leader.”
Last year, Jershaun, who had played quarterback all through youth football, played defensive end while senior Bryson Martin finished his final year at quarterback.
“And (Jershaun) was an absolute terror on defense,” Harvey said. “As good as he is a quarterback, he’s just as good on defense.”
Jershaun is not slated to play defense again soon.
“Knowing Jershaun is back there at quarterback makes us all believe we always have a chance no matter what the situation is,” Vick said. “He’s that type of talent.”