Jason Albritton and Ryan Eckley were major assets for the Newsome football program over the last four years. (Photo courtesy of Tracey Sellers.)

Jason Albritton and Ryan Eckley were major assets for the Newsome football program over the last four years. Their commitment paid off, as they both achieved their dreams of becoming Division I athletes when they inked pen to paper during the early signing period on December 15.

Running back Albritton was a four-year starter for the Wolves and carried the bulk on offense for the last three seasons. This past season, he led the team with 226 carries for a team-high 1,405 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns. Newsome finished 8-3 and made the playoffs for the third season in a row. Albritton has signed to play at the University of South Florida and will major in business.

“It’s something that I’ve been working towards since I can remember,” said Albritton. “I’ve known for a while now that USF was the place that I wanted to be. The night they offered was something that I had been looking forward to for years.”

Newsome Head Football Coach Christian Yockey will miss coaching both players.

“Both kids were great leaders and brought great energy to practice,” said Yockey.

Albritton’s legacy will be just how hard he practiced and played.

“He was tough as nails and really wore defenses out through an entire game. I know a lot of coaches in our area will be happy to not see No. 10 on a Newsome uniform,” Yockey added.

Eckley was the team’s punter/kicker and was the key cog for the Wolves on special teams for the last four seasons as a starter. This season, he had a 42.6-yards-per-punt average and 36 touchbacks on kickoffs. The kicker made 28 of 32 point-after attempts and eight of 10 field goals, with a long of 47 yards. Eckley has signed to play for Michigan State in the fall and will major in kinesiology.

“Michigan State is the right fit for me because it really has a great college atmosphere,” said Eckley. “The football games are energetic, and it is definitely a fun place to be. I moved from the Midwest and still have lots of family in the area. My goals are to become an NCAA punt average leader. The end goal is to progress and prove myself to be a next-level player and get picked up to the NFL.”

Yockey likes Eckley’s chances of having a pro career in the future.

“Ryan forced teams to drive the length of the field with his ability to pin teams deep on punts and kicks,” said Yockey. “He has a chance to be an NFL punter. He has a huge leg and the ability to do great things at the next level.”

Albritton looks forward to helping build the same consistency at USF that he did at Newsome. He is grateful for his coaches and teammates that helped him achieve his goals.

“It’s a young program with a relatively new coach who is eager to have hardworking guys. I like the way their offense is run, and I feel like I can be a good piece to the puzzle,” said Albritton. “I’m really thankful for all of the teammates and coaches who’ve helped me along the way. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.