Cam Newton vs. Terrelle Pryor: Who Ya Got?
When deciding who is the current front-runner to take home the Heisman Trophy, there is only one answer.
First, for the unaware, there are some unspoken ground rules for Heisman nominees. It is "supposed" to be the most outstanding player in the nation. However, the qualifications are as follows: it has to be a quarterback or running back; he has to be on a top ranked team, in the top 10, preferably in the top two; he has to be playing well to round out the season.
So, when we factor everything in, going into the third weekend since the BCS poll was released, there are only a few nominees. Those men are Kellen Moore, LaMichael James, and Cam Newton, and the clear leader is Cameron Newton. He has been so good this season. He already has the SEC quarterback rushing record, with a handful of games left to play. His numbers are staggering, and his play has been as well. He is untackleable. And yes, I made that word up.
The funny thing is, coming into the year, one of the Heisman favorites was a man who very much resembles the aforementioned Newton. Terrelle Pryor, before the season started, was many people's pick as he would fit all the qualifications and was due for a monster year.
After a loss to Wisconsin, Pryor dropped from Heisman contention for now.
But this begs the question: taking everything into account, all information, all intangibles and tangibles...who ya got?
Cam Newton is listed at 6' 6''. He is a monster of a human being.
Terrelle Pryor is listed at 6' 6'' also. Hmmm. He too, apparently, is a gigantic individual.
Pryor weighs in at 233 lbs while Newton is at 250 lbs. While there is not much difference, and these numbers may be different depending on where you look, Newton just "seems" bigger. In the end, that's really the important factor, even if the numbers had been reversed.
Slight Edge: Newton
Looking up 40 times is an often hopeless task. Numbers vary depending on where you look and when you look. However, taking the actual time with a grain of salt, Cam Newton has been clocked around 4.5 it appears.
Pryor, on the other hand, who has some controversy surrounding his times, is listed as high as 4.3. A couple draft scouting sites give him a time of 4.3 or 4.4 as well.
Splitting hairs here, it seems Pryor is slightly, consistently, recorded as being faster. Perhaps.
Slight Edge: Pryor
Both of these men are silky, smooth runners. They appear as though they are floating down the field, yet get on top of defenders quicker than can be prepared for. It is really hard to imagine, after watching Pryor for three years, that another man his size could run the same way.
Newton has had the much better year running the ball, but that may have more to do with his team and their style of play, rather than his superior ability.
Nevertheless, his numbers are hard to ignore. Already over 1,000 yards rushing, Newton has eclipsed Pryor's best season in just eight games.
For dual threat quarterbacks, and what everything that entails, both these men are surprisingly accurate with the ball. Usually a QB given the dual threat or rushing label is a poor passer with shaky accuracy. However, both guys are completing over 65 percent of their throws on the year.
Newton does not throw for many yards, probably because of the shift to the rushing attack Auburn gives opponents. As a team, the Tigers rushed for over 400 yards last game, against a staunch LSU defense.
Pryor, on the other hand, does have some very nice passing games because, again, he tends to stay in the pocket more than his counterpart.
Since Cam Newton has such a small sample size to go by, we cannot make the judgement that he can be a prolific passer, whereas Pryor at least has done it before.
Slight Edge: Pryor
This one isn't even close. Terrelle Pryor is a three-year starter at one of the top schools in the country. He has over 5,000 career passing yards and nearly 50 touchdowns. He is officially eligible for the NFL draft after this season and has the experience to warrant first round consideration. If he decides to return to Ohio State, he will be entrenched as a four-year starting quarterback.
Cam Newton is on the opposite side of the spectrum. This is his first year starting at a division one school. He has little to no experience prior to 2010. Of course, the optimist will look at this and say how good he is already, in only his first year at Auburn.
However, college isn't like the pros. There is not development time. He is, like Pryor, a junior. He does not have the opportunity to develop for three more years and become outstanding. Even though it is only his first year running the show, he might not have time to get much better.
Pryor is a junior with three years starting experience. He plays at THE Ohio State, one of the few teams who is routinely in the top 10 at the beginning and end of every season. His coach, Jim Tressel, is not the best coach in the country, but is an experienced and veteran leader who has been through it all.
Pryor's freshman season, he had an experienced backup behind him, helping him, in Todd Boeckman. Everything was set up nicely for Terrelle to do well, not to mention his high ceiling and stock coming out of high school.
Cam Newton was also a big talent coming out of high school, evidenced by the college he attended as a freshman: University of Florida. Rumor has it, if Florida legend Tim Tebow had left early for the NFL after his junior season, Newton would have stayed and been the starter at the top school in the country. However, since Tebow came back, Newton transferred to a junior college for 2009.
After tearing up the league and being declared the top high school or junior college quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com, Newton transferred to Auburn for the 2010 season. Auburn had a new head coach with only one career bowl game under his belt. Newton was coming in to be the savior and would have to learn on the fly.
The Eye Test
Sometimes, in sports, we put too much stock in numbers. Oftentimes, we can tell more with our eyes, just by watching the games.
This season, there is no doubt, Cam Newton has passed the eye test. With the possible exception of LaMichael James at Oregon, Newton has been the most impressive looking player in the nation on the offensive side of the ball.
He can throw when he needs to, but his running is mesmerizing. There was a play during the LSU game last weekend where Newton ran for, what I believe ended up being a couple yard gain, nothing more than that. However, during the play, he broke six or seven tackles, running through defenders like they were middle schoolers. He is playing on a level above the competition this year.
In comparison, Terrelle Pryor doesn't seem as exciting. He is not having a tremendous season, even though his school only has one loss. At No. 11 in the nation, they have almost become an afterthought. Pryor can remedy that with a big finish to the season, but my eyes tell me he won't be able to outperform Cameron Newton.
And The Winner Is...
Who ya got? If you had to pick one of these guys to start a game for your team, which would it be?
Pryor has the experience edge, definitely. He has seen and been through much more. Newton has the current edge. He is on fire right now, playing out of his mind, and seems unbeatable, but how long will that last?
Will Newton be able to keep up this level of play against, say, Alabama? Or will a good team be able to shut down his running game?
Will Pryor be able to keep improving or has he hit a ceiling in player development?
Final Tally: Pryor 4 - Newton 3
And the winner is Terrelle Pryor. Give me a quarterback who can both run and pass with the best of them, and has also been through all the ups and downs of starting three full seasons in division one football. I want my quarterback to know what he is up against and have an idea of what he needs to do to win.