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Worth star LB Newton heads north to Maryville College in Tenn.

Worth County football standout Austin Newton, front row, center, signs with Maryville College on Tuesday in Sylvester. Newton is joined by, front row, from left, father, Robbie, and mother, Melanie, as well as, back row, from left, Worth County defensive coordinator Cedric Stegall, LBs coach Jodie Knight and head coach Scotty Ward.

Worth County football standout Austin Newton, front row, center, signs with Maryville College on Tuesday in Sylvester. Newton is joined by, front row, from left, father, Robbie, and mother, Melanie, as well as, back row, from left, Worth County defensive coordinator Cedric Stegall, LBs coach Jodie Knight and head coach Scotty Ward.

SYLVESTER — At the Mike linebacker position, you will inevitably come across bigger and stronger kids than Worth County’s Austin Newton.

But you’ll likely never find one who’s tougher or smarter.

The Worth County defense’s field general, who made all the calls and check-downs for the Rams during his senior season, signed with Division III Maryville College in Tennessee on Tuesday, hoping to build on an already solid career.

“I’m very happy with my decision. I could’ve stayed closer to home (at a place like LaGrange) or gone as far away as Iowa, but Maryville just felt right,” said Newton, who plans to major in history in hopes of one day being a teacher.

Newton, who stands just 5-foot-10 and weighs 190 pounds, averaged six tackles a game — second on the team — and had nine in a game twice this past season. He also led the team in forced fumbles with five and recovered two.

“His intelligence and his toughness stood out to me,” Rams LB coach Jodie Knight said. “He’s not going to back down from anyone. It doesn’t matter how big or strong you are.”

Maryville, which went 4-6 a season ago, could use a player like Newton, said Worth County head coach Scotty Ward.

“The bigger the game, the better he played it seemed,” Ward said. “He made all our calls, and he always seemed to be in the right spot in the right time. I think he’ll really help (their program).”