ALBANY -- They just couldn't keep Sam Newman off the field. Not one, not two, but three knee injuries hit Newman as hard as he hits defensive lineman this season, and all Newman did was hit back, back and back.
He returned to Westover's offensive line after every setback, a profile in courage and guts as much as a testament to his ability to play football.
So it was all but fitting for Newman to stand there Wednesday (both legs in great shape) in the Westover media center, smiling amid friends, family and coaches as he signed a letter of intent and accepted a football scholarship to Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala.
"We're glad to have Sam,'' said Faulkner coach Corey Fipps, who made the trip to Northwest Albany on National Signing Day. "We feel he will be one of the marquee players in this recruiting class.''
Newman is just as happy to be an Eagle, after starting four years for the Patriots.
"It's a great day,'' said Newman, who played for the Westover city champs as a freshman and returned from his third knee injury this season to play in the final game of the year, a win against Monroe that gave Westover the city title.
"I kept getting hurt, but I kept coming back. It was a great feeling to come back in that last game and beat Monroe for the city championship,'' Newman said. "I came in with a city championship, and I went out with a city championship.''
Newman said he was glad Faulkner stuck with him through his injuries, and said he loved the school when he visited.
"I took a couple of visits there,'' he said. "I liked it a lot. The thing that stuck out was that it's a good Christian college, and it's not too far from home.''
Newman plans to major in sports management and hopes to coach high school football some day.
"He's the kind of Christian young man we're looking for,'' Fipps said. "We feel like he will be the kind of person we want off the field and the kind of player we want on the field. He has size and quickness, and he can play all five spots on the offensive line. We plan on playing him at right tackle.''
That's where Newman played his first three years at Westover before moving to center, where he graded out at 92 percent as a senior and led Westover's ground game.
"We moved him inside to be in the middle, and he held down the middle,'' Westover coach Octavia Jones said. "He was injured but he came back and had a great year, and we're proud to see him get a scholarship. He exemplifies what you need to do in the classroom and on the field to the younger players in our program.''