Give Cameron Newton credit for this: Wherever he decides to play football next season, he’ll be 100 percent sure it’s the right place. The highly touted junior college quarterback, a dual-threat guy who began his career at Florida, is taking a very deliberate and open-minded approach to choosing his next school. One of the schools he’s considering is Mississippi State.
Newton (6-foot-6, 247 pounds), who played his high school ball at Westlake in Atlanta, visited Starkville on Saturday and watched the Bulldogs dismantle Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, 41-27. During a lengthy conversation I had with Newton on Wednesday night, he said he was very impressed with what he saw that day.
“The crowd was charged up, great atmosphere,” he said. “That was everything I was expecting and more from the Mississippi State environment. Since my first step on campus, I received much love and warming hospitality. That was a major deal with me.”
MSU was just the second school he’s visited this fall. He’s also been out to Arizona, and he’s planning to visit Oklahoma next weekend. He might also visit North Carolina.
Newton’s been pretty busy at his current school. He’s leading Blinn (Texas) College up against top-ranked Fort Scott (Kan.) CC on Sunday in the JUCO national title game. Once that’s done with, he’ll really be able to hone in on his decision. His plan is to enroll in January, and he hopes to make his choice by the week of the 15th.
The signing period for JUCO transfers begins Dec. 16.
Newton said he doesn’t have a frontrunner. “It was an eye-opening experience at Mississippi State, and I’m taking everything into consideration. But my next frontrunner will be the school that I commit to.”
So what does MSU have going for it? Dan Mullen , for starters. He was Newton’s position coach at Florida, so the two are close. Newton said they didn’t actually talk a whole lot about the recruiting side of things last weekend, mostly just catching up with each other.
“The difficult thing for me to digest was how he just transformed into this idol, this American idol in Starkville,” Newton said. “That was amazing for me to see that.” He added that his relationship with Mullen won’t necessarily be a tipping point, but it sure can’t hurt.
The quarterback situation won’t be a big factor either, he said. Tyler Russell has been the anointed one, but he’s still got four years left. And you’ll have Chris Relf and probably Daniel Stegall in the mix, too.
“I feel that if I come on campus, I don’t want nothing given to me,” Newton said. “I want to work for everything, because I feel that that’s how you get the respect from your teammates, to work for everything you get.”
Newton was impressed with what Mullen’s done with the offense, especially considering the talent shortage. “One of the added dimensions is you’ve got a young team, a young, hungry team, and you’ve got a fan base at Mississippi State that is hungry for victory."