Will Ansonia native Arkeel Newsome be UConn’s starting running back this season?

Connecticut running back Arkeel Newsome (22), fumbles the ball while tackled by Boise State defensive tackle Armand Nance (40) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Rentschler Field, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in East Hartford, Conn. Boise State linebacker Tanner Vallejo (20) recovered for the touchdown. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

(WTNH)–It’s only a matter of time for legendary Ansonia running back Arkeel Newsome.

Connecticut’s all-time leading rusher played well as a freshman at UConn last year, racking up a team-high 1,072 all-purpose yards and treating Temple like Naugatuck High School on a 74-yard touchdown run that might have been the Huskies’ highlight of the season.

But this year, UConn head coach Bob Diaco sees bigger things for the 5-7 back.

“I see Arkeel as a starter,” Diaco told the Hartford Courant’s Desmond Conner. “I don’t see him as a No. 2.”

Of course, Diaco always sees the best things for his players. In his mind, every one of the guys on the Huskies roster has the NFL in his future…if he works hard enough and does all of the right things.

So that quote doesn’t necessarily mean that Newsome will replace Ron Johnson as the starter–at least right away.

But one thing is certain next season:

“Arkeel has to get the ball,” Diaco said. “He is an electric player. He is an aggressive player. He has excellent contact speed, which is kind of a rare trait. On the teams that I’ve been on, there aren’t a lot of people who run faster when they are on the field than when they are in their gym shorts.”

The one thing standing in Newsome’s way might be his ability to hold on to the ball. He said he ran timid last season because he was focusing on doing just that.

“It really held me back last year,” he told the Courant. “This year, I’m just playing the way I play.”

Diaco likes the way Newsome, and the other running backs on the roster, including Berlin native and senior Max DeLorenzo, have prioritized ball security.

“The ball carriers have done much better,” he said. “Obviously, the proof is in the pudding on gameday, but even leading up to this point, there’s a lot less ball security errors than I remember last year.”

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