Newberg now a grizzled vet in college football recruiting game

Jamie Newberg doesn’t look much different today than that fresh-faced kid that showed up in Atlanta nearly 20 years ago to embark on what turned out to be unlikely career in college football recruiting. But his youthful appearance belies the slings and arrows and pitfalls he has survived to reach the pinnacle of the business.

Today Newberg, 42, is a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He laughs when recalling how it all began.

“Growing up in the Tampa-St. Pete area, I was always a huge Bucs’ fan,” said Newberg, a graduate of the University of South Florida. “In those days, all you had to look forward to was the draft. So that’s kind of how I got started, following and keeping up with all the players the Bucs might draft. I fell in love with it.”

Back home in St. Pete after college, Newberg said he was the typical 22-year-old. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said. “One of my friends in college had a job at SportsSouth. He said he could get me an internship working as a production assistant. So I packed up my car and moved to Atlanta the next day.”

One of Newberg’s first gigs at SportSouth was to assist recruiting expert Forrest Davis with his new recruiting TV show. Newberg’s job was to scramble around and try to find videotape and/or film on the prospects Davis — one of the pioneers in the business — planned to discuss on the show. That was no small task in the pre-Internet days.

“It was brutal,” Newberg says with a chuckle. “I still remember making all these lists on paper and dividing them by markets and states. I would call affiliates begging for one-minute of footage on some guy they might not have even heard of. It’s a lot easier nowadays.”

What started out as a one-time, experimental call-in show ended up running on Fox Sports South for years. And after four months Newberg went from being a low-paid intern to a low-paid full-time production assistant. Eventually he moved in front of the camera and Newberg has been at the forefront of the recruiting game ever since.

In 1996, Newberg launched the magazine BorderWars, followed shorly by a website of the same name. Focusing only on Southeastern football, the website quickly became the most popular of its kind.

“It was all because of the Internet,” said Newberg, who lived in Atlanta for 13 years. “What we do is evaluate and track players. It’s about spreading information. There is no better way to do that than the world-wide web. It really started blowing up in the late-90s. Pretty soon the 900-numbers and the magazines became dinosaurs.”

Newberg said his first website got 80,000 page views his first year in 1997. By 2001, it got 2 million on signing day alone.

Since then Newberg has been bought out and repackaged so many times he’s lost count. He traded his BorderWars site to Rivals.com for stock and lost it all when the company went belly-up in 2001. Newberg was then a charter member of Scout.com — then Insiders.com — and was with that group until the spring of 2008 when he went back to Rivals.com.

In between have come two children, two marriages and umpteen addresses. Today Newberg lives in St. Petersburg with his second wife and one child with another one on the way. And he still loves what he’s doing.

“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster, but it’s been great,” said Newberg, who also hosts “Inside the Huddle; Recruiting Edition” on Comcast Southeast Sports (CSS). “The best part about this job is you get to know these guys in high school and you want them to do well in college and beyond that. I think the first players I tracked were Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks. I remember talking to them as high school kids. Now those guys are trying to keep their NFL careers going.”

If they’re anything like Newberg, they’ll keep them going, too.

18 comments Add your comment

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
11:58 am

Didn’t he also have a radio show on 790 for awhile?

todd

August 26th, 2009
12:28 pm

Chip Towers

August 26th, 2009
1:14 pm

GeoffDawg: Yes, he had a show on 790 The Zone and I hired him to write a recruiting column for the AJC back when I was the college sports editor. Newberg is one of those guys that always has three or four irons in the fire. Always been a go-getter. . . .

todd: I do. ;-)

Buzzfan®

August 26th, 2009
1:36 pm

Ah, the old days of Border Wars (and the original Hive) on clever.net. Thanks, Mike Greenberg!

Voice of Reason

August 26th, 2009
2:22 pm

I am surprised that the “Countdown to Signing Day” shows on Wednesday nights were not mentioned since he was a big psrt of that.

the Hitman

August 26th, 2009
2:56 pm

What ever happend to Super Dawg from 790 the Zone?

Flo-Ri-Duh!

August 26th, 2009
3:17 pm

Heh – if it wasn’t for Newberg I wouldn’t have found a better way to waste my time!

Amelia island Mike

August 26th, 2009
4:33 pm

He just happens to be a great guy and really knows his stuff. If you like recruiting he does a fabulous job evaluating talent and putting the info out there for those that love to see “who is going where”.

Principal Skinner

August 26th, 2009
4:50 pm

SuperDawg was the true talent in the recruiting business in the late 90’s. Bulldog Bite, Borderwars, Superdawg.com, etc. He had sand in the bucket, got through the trash, enveloped people, had a good motor, looked good coming off the bus, did it when the band was playing, couldn’t stand Joe Kines and the 10 yard Bulldog cushion, and pushed others around like shopping carts.

mano17

August 26th, 2009
10:45 pm

mcnairs head coach and the entire staff were let go today . the reason for this was insubordination which is some bullsh#t. they replaced a great man with a spineless coward of a coach named john april who in two yeard as head basketball coach won a …total of 4 games. also ever since he came to mcnair he had it in for coach mo and wanted his job

Bamafan

August 27th, 2009
4:22 am

Countdown to Signing Day was my favorite recruiting show on tv for many years. Some FSU fan was
the 1st caller on the show every week and every other caller was a Bama fan.

Jim n Buckhead

August 27th, 2009
10:35 am

Yes in the early days “Countdown to Signing Day” was must see TV….it became clear after a few years that JN had an agenda and he still does……

aztec

August 27th, 2009
3:36 pm

anyone sold college football fan knows these so called recruiting experts are a joke, just ask paul johnson his opinion on these guys

Lil Yodi

August 28th, 2009
5:06 am

I miss countdown to signing day.

Drago

August 28th, 2009
2:07 pm

I will never forget the words of that noted Bama Homer, Forest Davis, “Peyton Manning is good, but he is no Freddie Kitchens.”

PT

August 28th, 2009
3:36 pm

According to him everyones class is good. All he can say is they met needs. He is an idiot

[...] between $260 and $325 a ticket. The recession seems to be the primary culprit. …   Newberg now a grizzled vet in college football recruiting gameI think the first players I tracked were Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks. I remember talking to them [...]

obomaisaclown

August 29th, 2009
1:09 pm

THESE CLOWNS ARE ALWAYS TRYING TO HELP BAMA LOOK GOOD ON PAPER , SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE!