Published Friday, August 30, 2013 AT 2:49 PM / Updated at 6:18 PM
Recruiting: Peyton Newell picks Nebraska
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

HIAWATHA, Kan. — Nebraska’s football team got a recruiting present before its Saturday season-opener: Four-star defensive tackle Peyton Newell committed to the Huskers at a school-wide ceremony inside the Hiawatha High School gym.

“From the very beginning, Nebraska’s been in my heart,” Newell said. He committed during Big Red Weekend in June and kept it quiet for the last two months.

Newell picked NU over Kansas, Kansas State and South Carolina. The 6-foot-2, 280-pounder had 34 scholarship offers overall from schools including USC, Georgia, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Husker defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski handled most of the recruiting of Newell, and NU unofficially hosted him during June’s Big Red Weekend. Newell said Kaczenski “made it a point to reach out to me at important times.”

The announcement came as part of the Red Hawks’ fall sports rally. Newell thanked Hiawatha administrators, coaches, family, friends, Hiawatha and the media for appearing. He had a special thanks to his mom, who died when he was 5 years old.

“I was determined to take this tragedy and turn it into a triumph,” Newell said of his mom’s passing.

Newell finished with 61 tackles — 37 of them for loss — and ten sacks in 2012, and 74 tackles — including 26 for loss — in 2011. He runs a 4.8-second 40-yard dash and benches 380 pounds. He plays at the 4-A level of Kansas High School football. Newell said he’s not worried about the level of competition because he’s done well at football camps around the country.

Newell posted this Twitter message shortly after announcing his decision:

Watch video of Newell’s announcement here:

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at sam.mckewon@owh.com. And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.