On Sept. 7, 2006 Cameron Newton announced that he would play for the U. of Florida for the upcoming 2007 season. As a freshman, Newton earned the job as Tim Tebow’s backup, but on Nov. 21, 2008 Newton was charged with burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice. The charges coupled with lack of playing time led to Newton’s decision to transfer to off-the-radar Blinn College and completely away from major college football. After a season at Blinn where Newton led his team to a championship, SEC suitors came knocking on Newton’s door once again. This time it was Auburn and Mississippi State.
Fast-forward to Saturday, Oct. 23, now Auburn quarterback Newton screamed in excitement as Auburn won their eighth straight game of the season. These days, Newton has a lot to scream about.
Newton, almost single-handedly, has led Auburn to and 8-0 record and a No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings. With Auburn’s 24-17 win over LSU, Newton’s team controls its own destiny in the SEC, and they are in the race for the national championship.
Based on his play so far this season, Newton is determined that he will be the one to hold up the crystal ball come season’s end. However, that should not be the only trophy Newton takes home. With his 217 rushing yards against LSU, Newton should have cemented his status as this year’s Heisman Trophy winner.
Statistically, no player has been more dominant than Newton this season. Newton is second in the nation in rushing with 1077 yards. He leads the nation in rushing touchdowns with 14 and he averages seven yards per carry. He has more rushing yards than fellow Heisman candidates LaMichael James of Oregon and Wisconsin’s John Clay, and did I mention that he plays quarterback?
Newton is also a more than capable passer when he is called upon. He only completed 10 passes for 86 yards against LSU, but he is third in the nation with a 172.1 passer rating. Newton’s rating is higher than “more traditional quarterbacks” such as Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet and Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Newton has also never completed less than 50 percent in any game this season.
Auburn’s undefeated record thus far will benefit Newton’s Heisman campaign, but Newton’s memorable moments will help him as well. He led a game-winning 19-play drive over Kentucky, a come-back win over South Carolina and his flying rushing touchdown over Arkansas is one of the season’s more memorable moments. With games against Georgia and Alabama left on Auburn’s schedule, Newton is all but guaranteed more memorable moments to help sway Heisman voters.
Another aspect that will help Newton be named college football’s best player is how much he sticks out in the crowd. Running quarterbacks are “in” right now, but no one plays the part like Newton does. At 6-foot-6 and at 260 pounds, Newton looks more like a defensive end than he does quarterback so his body is more capable of taking hits than other running quarterbacks. Newton’s competitors have already shown signs of slowing down. Michigan’s Dennard Robinson has twice gotten injured, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez has gotten benched, Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor has not put up Heisman-type numbers in the latter part of this season, and Colin Kaepernick’s Nevada team will most likely lose twice.
In a league that has included the likes of Tee Martin and Tim Tebow, Newton has broken the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. In a sense, Newton has out-Tebowed Tebow, and Newton’s play is breaking the negative chains that once held these two quarterbacks together.
Watching Newton play in person, I can honestly say that I have never seen a more dominant college player in my life. Against Louisiana Monroe, Newton did not run the ball a single time but he did not need to. He threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns as Auburn routed the War Hawks 52-3. Against Arkansas, Newton and Arkansas’ offense traded blows but Newton outlasted the Razorbacks thanks to his 188 rushing yards and three touchdowns. LSU had held opponents to 84 yards rushing per game, and Newton alone had 217 against the Tigers.
Newton’s ceiling is seemingly limit-less and his play makes me wonder what he could have done had he stayed at Florida. No one will ever know what he could have done at Florida, but if he stays healthy and Auburn keeps winning, then Newton should win the Heisman Trophy in a landslide.