SHIPROCK — Tyris Newton has an opportunity not many receive.
The Shiprock football standout was invited to a regional Team USA camp in Denver where he'll work out and compete against dozens of other players looking for an invitation to play for the national team.
"I got invited. I got a letter from them saying I'm invited, and it's an opportunity I had to take. I can't wait for it," Newton said.
The camp, which will be held May 27-28, is essentially a tryout for the Team USA football squad. Players from around the country are invited to regional camps, where they go through position-specific drills under the direction of various college coaches, who evaluate the players. After the regional camps, the coaches make selections for players who will be invited to the next round of tryouts.
Newton, 15, hopes his combination of size and speed will help him stand out among his peers at the camp.
"I just can't wait to go out there and show what I can do. I've got height, and I think that's an advantage because I'm 6-(foot)-2, and I'm lengthy. I just want to show my skills to the recruiters," Newton said. "And I think my speed will help. I'm going to try to blow past the cornerbacks I'm going against."
Newton burst onto the scene last season as a sophomore, racking up more than 600 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. The breakout season earned him first-team All-State honors as a tight end/slot receiver.
"He's got tremendous speed, and we really like the way he accelerates after he catches the ball. His yards after catch were impressive this past season, and he's got really good, soft hands," Shiprock football coach Eric Stovall said.
As good as Newton has been for the Chieftains on the field, Stovall said Newton's ability to be a leader and an example for other players has made the most impact.
"He's a really strong leader and puts the team before himself. He's disciplined, does a good job in the classroom and even as a young sophomore he sets the tone of what being a student athlete is about," Stoval said. "I think the biggest thing he brings to the table is his positive attitude. I'm really impressed with the maturation process he's gone through, especially as a sophomore."
The invitation to the Team USA camp came as a surprise to Newton, his family and Stovall. All said they are unaware of how players are selected for the camp — whether he was nominated by someone or if his sophomore season drew the attention the Team USA program. Newton learned of the opportunity when a letter from Team USA showed up in the mail one day.
Newton and his family quickly started looking into the camp, trying to find out what it would entail and how or if it'd be possible to attend.
There's a fee of $219 to attend the two-day event, and players are responsible for all expenses, hotels, travel and meals, prompting the family to start a GoFundMe account to help pay for the expenses.
The experience of competing against great players from around the Mountain West will show Newton where he stands among his peers and what he needs to keep working and improving on over the next couple years at Shiprock.
But true to his leadership mentality, Newton said he's just as focused on learning from the experience and bringing new knowledge back to the Chieftains for the 2017 season.
"It's definitely going be challenging, but I can't wait," he said. "I think this camp is really going to help me, but I play football for (Shiprock), and I can't wait to bring back what I learn and be a better leader."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.