Cam Newton: The College Years
Before all of the dabbing, funny hats and weird text font, Cam Newton, was arguably the best quarterback college football had ever seen in a single season. Now seemingly the heir apparent to Tom Brady’s throne in New England (2020 has been a really weird year). I am here to remind you or possibly teach you about Cam Newton’s college career.
In 2007, Cam Newton, was a 5-Star recruit coming out of Westlake High School in Atlanta. He was the 26th overall national prospect and the fourth rated quarterback in this class and second dual threat option. He was behind the likes of Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame), Ryan Mallett (Michigan) and Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech). Yes back in 2007 people thought Tyrod Taylor was better than Cam Newton.
Cam however was swayed by Urban Meyer and committed to the University of Florida to become a Gator.
That picture belongs in the Louvre. Cam Newton served as Tim Tebow’s backup at Florida. He only saw the field during garbage time however. Appearing in only six games during his freshman and sophomore years in Gainesville.
Newton, publicly states that he decided to transfer after learning that Tebow was going to return to Florida for his senior season, which may be true. However, Newton also found himself in some pretty hot water after being arrested for stealing a laptop from a fellow classmates dorm room, and then tossing it out the window when the police showed up to investigate. And he had already technically withdrawn from the school before Tebow’s announcement.
Newton from there went to Blinn Junior College for a season, leading them to a national championship in 2009 before officially transferring to Auburn.
Interesting to think however what could have been at Florida, had Tebow left after his junior season, and Newton stayed in Urban Meyer’s program. Does Florida officially become a football dynasty? How long does Urban Meyer stay before he has “health conditions” it’s a great what-if.
Auburn in 2009 under Gene Chizik were an 8-5 football team with a 3-5 conference record. This included a loss to their hated rival, Alabama and Nick Saban who were flexing their muscles for the first time. Cam Newton was a former five star recruit who never got to show what made him such a highly touted prospect in high school.
All of the struggles from the previous year seemed to just disappear for the Tigers with Cam at the helm. Even in the SEC, at a powerhouse like Auburn, Newton looked like a man among boys. And this was not a dominant Auburn team. They were good, but not great, Cam made them that.
In 14 games, Newton threw 30 touchdown passes to just seven picks, and 2,845 yards, completing 66% of his passes. But he was probably even more lethal with his legs, with 264 rushing attempts he ran for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns easily leading the Tigers in both categories. He was the 12th highest rusher in the nation.
An interesting debate to be had is for one season, would you rather have 2010 Cam Newton, or 2019 Joe Burrow? A certain podcast I know Verbally Committed had such a discussion on their new episode coming out on Thursday.
Despite winning the Heisman, Newton is best remembered in Auburn for his performance in the 2010 Iron Bowl. Facing their rival in Alabama, and needing a win to stay in the BCS title picture. Auburn found themselves down 24-0 in the 2nd quarter. Cam Newton however willed the Tigers back from that deficit and on to a 28-27 victory on the road in Tuscaloosa.
He was 13-20 passing for 216 yards in that game with three touchdowns and no picks. He also ran for a score, although he carried the rock 22 times for only 39 yards in the ball game. We have to give Saban some credit here, he was seemingly the only team that was able to contain Newton’s ground attack.
After steam rolling South Carolina in the SEC Championship game, thanks for coming out Gamecocks. It was onto the BCS title game against the Chip Kelly led Oregon Ducks.
This game honestly, between you and me, is sort of a dud. Oregon’s offense struggled against a real defense and Auburn had some flashes of brilliance but nothing too crazy.
Also the fact that really the deciding play of the game was because a runners knee didn’t touch the ground and everyone stopped thinking it did, leading to an extra point like walk off field goal makes the dramatics feel hollow.
Now mind you this was before the current playoff that we have now. And looking back at that 2010 season, had there been a playoff in place, Auburn would have played Wisconsin with now current Patriots, Bret Bielma and James White. And Oregon would have taken on Andy Dalton and TCU. But despite the revisionist history lesson, I think we still end up with this matchup for the championship.
And after this season, Newton left for the NFL, Auburn slipped back to mediocrity with an 8-5 season the following year and eventually fired Chizik a couple season later, who was mistaken for a good coach because of Newton’s heroics.
As you can see from these clips, Cam Newton was basically Gronk with a cannon. He was a man among boys in college and absolutely dominated the 2010 college football season. And I for one still think it is the most dominant play we have seen from the quarterback position at the college ranks. He dragged an okay Auburn team to greatness. I am excited to see what he can bring to the Patriots a decade later.
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Connor Ryan (@connoryan68/@PodVerbalCommit)