Football: Jer’Zhan Newton makes family and CCC history with second round selection

Football is the Newton family business.

All five brothers – Jervon, Jerquan, Jerjuan, Jer’Zhan and Jershaun – starred at Clearwater Central Catholic. 

Four have gone on to play in college. 

Now one is in the NFL. 

On Friday, Jer’Zhan, a disruptive defensive tackle at Illinois (featured photo courtesy of Illinois Athletics), was picked in the second round (36th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Washington Commanders.

It was a historic achievement, not just for his family but also his high school alma mater.

After all, Jer’Zhan becomes the first player from CCC to achieve second-round draft status.

At Illinois, he was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year this past season, becoming only the fourth player in program history to do so, and the first in nearly three decades. His accolades do not end there; he was also named Big Ten and AP Defensive Lineman of the Year and an AP All-American. 

Before his collegiate success, Jer’Zhan was a three-star high school recruit, according to 247, ESPN, and Rivals. On defense, he recorded 244 tackles, 24 sacks, 45 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles. He also showcased his versatility by playing running back.

Jer’Zhan’s ascension is due in large part to family competitiveness. Eight years ago, Jer’Zhan started on defense at CCC with three of his brothers. They each kept a running total of their tackles and would go over the tally on the car ride home.

Zer’Zhan now headlines this brother act.

But there is a battle for top billing.

Jerjuan is a dynamic receiver at Toledo – and a potential high draft pick next year. 

Then there’s the youngest brother, Jershaun, who has led the Marauders to the state championship game each of the past two seasons.