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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Q&A: Coach of 2014 DE Peyton Newell

By Brandon Chatmon

Oklahoma is among several schools in hot pursuit of defensive end Peyton Newell (Hiawatha, Kan./Hiawatha). He's a priority recruit for the Sooners and defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright, who checked in on him in early December. Midway through his junior year, Newell already boasts offers from OU, Georgia, South Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma State, Michigan State and others. His high school coach Chris Diller spoke with SoonerNation about Newell's special ability.

SoonerNation: At what point did you realize how special he was?

Chris Diller: There's been two points. When he was in eighth grade he was invited to the UnderArmour combine but at that point he was good for a junior high kid. Then over the course of his sophomore season he started showing signs of being able to dominate. He's always been a good sized kid and he's strong as a bull. He's always had potential but it was maybe his sophomore year when he started doing some special things.

SN: What was it like seeing him come in with the hype then developing into a good high school player?

CD: It was kind of a new experience for us, we're a pretty small school. I've never had anyone that was heads above everybody. It was one of those coaching things were I can put him on one side of the field and eliminate what the offense wants to do on that side of the field and put everyone on the other half. It's been an interesting situation for us.

SN: Has there been a moment where you were like "Wow, I can't believe he made that play"?

CD: It was the first game of this year. It was a rainy game, things were a little sloppy on the field and he pinched down on what he thought was a dive play, made that tackle, realized the guy didn't have the ball and had enough quickness to run back outside and the quarterback had already made the pitch and he tackled that guy for a loss. It was one of those things were you're like, 'Oh, my gosh, he just took away the dive and the pitch on the same play.' It was a pretty special play. We watched it a few times on highlight films.

SN: What's been the biggest growth since his freshman year?

CD: His hand placement. Where he puts his hands and getting other people's hands off him. There's still a ways to go with that and I'm sure college coaches will take it to a whole new level. But that's what we've been focusing on.

SN: What would you say is most natural for him, that separates him from other players?

CD: His naturally strong but also works for it. He's so much further ahead of everybody in our weight room. A lot of it is natural but he's not afraid to get in there and stretch himself out.

SN: Where do you think his hunger comes from?

CD: His driving point, his motivation comes from tragedy in his life. His mother passed away when he was in third or fourth grade, she had breast cancer. Everytime you talk to him he says 'I want to make my mom proud' so that's his biggest motivational factor.

SN: When did you start to realize football is something that really mattered to him?

CD: I didn't know him until eighth grade. It had to be between his eighth grade and freshman year. He understood the seriousness of what was going on and he's always had more of a mature attitude, even as a 14-year old coming into high school, he already had a lot of leadership characteristics. And some of my seniors going out really took him under their wings and showed him how to push others. That summer of conditioning was probably when he decided this is what I want to do.

SN: When did the Sooners start showing interest?

CD: OU started getting real serious here recently but they've had their eye on him since he was a sophomore.