How much does Cameron "Cam" Jerrell Newton care about the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award? Enough to post a monster season to show the football world his mass appeal.
The massive appeal of Auburn University Tigers football has been there since the game was invented—almost. A player who arrived on campus last January, Newton, is probably the best quarterback in their history.
With all of the talent No. 1 ranked Auburn has, he is definitely their best player. More importantly, he is their best leader. He may be hosting a conference call with the offense as I write this.
The best football conference in the nation—hands down—is the SEC. Born in 1992, the last four national champions (Florida, LSU, Florida and Alabama) won the SEC championship.
Last week, he scored six touchdowns in the title game. It was one of the SEC’s most dynamic and classic individual performances. No other player has accounted for six touchdowns in an SEC Championship Game.
Only two programs and four different teams, furthermore, have scored over 36 points in the SEC title game. Auburn (2004, 2010) and Florida (1996, 2006) are it. Newton alone scored 36 points in the SEC Championship. Auburn's opponent, Steve Spurrier and the South Carlina Gamecocks, scored 17 in the whole game.
Before being named the MVP of the game, he passed for 335 yards and four touchdowns in it. A quarterback, Jason Campbell, is Auburn’s only other SEC Championship Game MVP. Winning Auburn’s second SEC championship is the stuff Newton’s Heisman is made of.
He is just the second quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in the conference's history.
He is the third player in NCAA FBS history to score 20 touchdowns, passing and running each, in a season. Colin Kaepernick and Heisman winner, Tim Tebow, are the others.
A junior from College Park, Ga., Newton and Tebow were teammates before Cam transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. He led the blue and white Buccaneers to the 2009 national junior college championship before leading Auburn to the FBS finals.
In 2010, he became a Heisman finalist. On Saturday, all four finalists are invited to New York City for the announcement. Oregon’s LaMichael James, Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Stanford’s Andrew Luck are the other invitees.
Newton could receive the highest percentage of first-place votes and points in Heisman history.
Only one other Auburn quarterback, Pat Sullivan (1971) has won the Heisman. He played three seasons and went 26-7 as the starter from 1969-71. He put up 6,284 passing yards, 57 touchdowns and 18 touchdowns rushing at Auburn.
Campbell is the third best quarterback, arguably, to ever play for Auburn. A starter in only one season, his team went undefeated in 2004. He passed for 2,700 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Campbell won both the SEC Player of the Year Award and, as I mentioned, an SEC Championship Game MVP. He rushed for 35 yards with a 0.5 average in his career. He wasn’t a factor in the 2004 Heisman voting, finishing seventh.
Bo Jackson is the only other Auburn player to win the Heisman.
Newton's Heisman watch week started with him being named First-Team All-SEC. Three other Auburn players made the All-SEC team this year, and they’re linemen—two on offense and one on defense.
This shows Newton is Auburn’s offense.
Throwing only six interceptions this season, he accounted for 48 touchdowns—20 rushing and 28 passing. With a 10.5 yard average and a 188.16 rating, he passed for 2,589 yards and completed 67.1 percent. He even caught two passes for 42 yards total and a touchdown.
He averages 5.8 yards per carry and has 1,409 rushing. He also punted once for a 22 yard average. Since kicking the ball is his kryptonite, I guess his name isn’t Superman.
It turned into a super week for him. On Wednesday, he was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year. He won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award—announced on Thursday. Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Troy Smith and Vince Young all won the O'Brien in the past.
This season, Newton started off as SEC Offensive Player of the Week. On Sept. 4, he scored five touchdowns against Arkansas State and repeated it against South Carolina three weeks later. His run to the 76th Heisman was on and popping.
Against Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 2, he popped in and threw a 94-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake. On the play, Blake and Newton became the proud owners of a record for the longest offensive play in Auburn history.
Newton also owns the SEC single season rushing record for quarterbacks. The record had stood for almost 50 years after Auburn’s Jimmy Sidle set it in 1963 (1,006 yards). Newton also broke Pat Sullivan's 27-years-old school record for most touchdowns in a single season (27). Newton performed like he was prime time on the Ed Sullivan Show every week.
Largely due to Newton, Auburn got its first No. 1 BCS ranking in school history. They also received their first Associated Press No. 1 ranking since 1985.
In November, he led the Tigers to a come-from-behind victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Once leading, 24–0, the defending national champions, Alabama, got their crowns jacked in the 24-point comeback symphony Newton orchestrated.
The SEC Championship Game was on Dec. 4. Auburn and Newton set an SEC Championship Game record for most points scored and biggest margin of victory.
He made the Dec. 13, 2010 cover of Sports Illustrated. I hope you’re seeing my illustration of why Newton should win this year’s Heisman Trophy—hands down. If not, then let me put Newton’s season in further perspective for you.
Tim Tebow never rushed for 1,000 yards. LaMichael James, a Heisman-caliber running back this season, rushed for 1, 500 yards. Running back, Bo Jackson, rushed for some 1,700 yards as a senior and Heisman winner.
Newton ran for over 1,400 this season as a junior quarterback. He had five games rushing for over 171 yards. He rushed for over 150 yards each against Georgia, LSU, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas and Arkansas State.
If he wins, Newton will help Auburn tie Florida for the most Heisman Trophy winners by team in SEC history. He’d be the 10th SEC player to win the Heisman. If he doesn’t win the 76th Heisman Trophy, then the voters who let it happen deserve to be disenfranchised.