University of Central Arkansas linebacker Frank Newsome, a learner a year ago, has become a teacher.

"We have had a lot of good freshmen coming in but also we have some upperclassmen with experience," he said. "I tried to take on the role of helping developing the freshmen, taking them up my wing."

He’s a fine example. Newsome (6-foot-2, 232) started all 11 games for the Bears last season and ranked fourth in the Southland Conference and was 45th in the nation with 100 tackles. He had 10 tackles for loss, the seventh best in the SLC.

"And he continues to play at a high level," said UCA coach Clint Conque about his efforts in preseason camp. "When he hits you, it’s like running into a brick wall."

"I’m more knowledgeable than last year; I think I’m a more consistent player, each and each player and each and every down," Newsome said. "It starts in the film room, just working on recognizing certain formations and evaluating down-and-distance situations."

He said that knowledge has seemed to carry over to the entire defense.

"Even though we have some new faces, we also have an experienced defense," he said. "I think that will allow us to continue building where we left off last year (the SLC leader in scoring defense). We’re much faster on defense, we’re more experienced and knowledgeable and we’re very physical."

And the linebacker corps seems to be one of the deepest for the Bears in recent history.

"We’re two-deep, then we have some new guys; it’s a good combination," he said. "The experienced guys are more knowledgeable and the new players have added another element."

Newsome considers the team chemistry strong as the Bears head into their season opener Thursday night at home against Henderson State.

"I think we had good chemistry last year and it’s that way this year if not better," he said. "Even the new guys who have come in seem like they have been teammates for a long time."