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Newbills add to Tigers' brotherhood
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SAVANNAH — Makenly Newbill says there’s an unmistakable feeling of brotherhood on the Savannah State University football team.

Of course, that’s only natural when you see your brother Makenzy, a year older, lined up on defense a few yards away.

“I feel really comfortable with him on the field and really comfortable with this team. I feel like I have 11 brothers on the team,” Makenly said.

The former South Effingham standouts turned a stressful situation into a new opportunity. Makenly, a defensive end, was playing at Valdosta State University and Makenzy, a linebacker, was going to Shorter University when COVID-19 struck in 2019. They came home and took online classes.

Then, COVID hospitalized their mother Vanessa, who eventually made a full recovery.

“We decided to just stay home,” Makenzy said.

And Savannah State, a welcome wagon for local talent, provided a new home for the Newbills to combine education with football.

Saturday night, the brothers begin their first fall football season together since high school when the Tigers travel to Makenly’s old stomping grounds, Valdosta State.

“I haven’t really given it much thought,” Makenly said. “It probably won’t hit me until I’m down there playing. It’s going to be a surreal feeling. I’m just trying to remain humble as I become elevated to the level God brings me to.”

SSU coach Shawn Quinn said Makenly (6-2, 240) is listed as a starter at defensive end and Makenzy (6-0, 220) will see playing time as a middle linebacker.

“Sometimes it seems like they’re attached at the hip,” Quinn said. “Where one is, the other is. They are fun guys.

“We want to be about local players and (Makenly and Makenzy) have been awesome and they’ve bought in to what we asked them to do. We’re excited to have them both.”

The Newbills aren’t just Effingham newbies on the Tigers’ practice field. One of their former SEHS teammates, Connor Vasher, will be a contributor on the offensive line. ECHS star Randy Scott should see time at wide receiver.

“We’ve all played together. Randy is like a little brother to me. There isn’t any Effingham-South (Effingham) rivalry. We’re all on the same team now,” Makenly said.

The Newbills had hoped to make their SSU debuts last fall but COVID canceled the fall football season for Division II teams. The Tigers played two games last spring, but it seems as if training camp has lasted two years.

“The opportunity was going to come so I had to stay ready to be ready,” Makenly said. “It was a long grind, but (the Division II college football season) is here now.”

Makenzy said he’s ready to play with his brother and the SSU defense will be ready for the high-powered Blazers, ranked sixth in the AFCA Division II preseason top-25 poll.

“I know it's going to be fun playing with (Makenly), we’ve been playing together since rec (ball) and high school,” Makenzy said. “It’s a big game, a playoff team. We’re starting off seeing where we are.”