A speechless Cameron Newton stood behind a podium next to the Heisman Memorial Trophy Saturday night at New York's Best Buy Theater.
His Heisman Memorial Trophy.
Newton thanked his "supporting cast" of his parents, coaches, teammates, fans, and even the troops fighting overseas in an emotional acceptance speech that featured several pauses and a continuous ear-to-ear smile the nation has grown to expect from the happy-go-lucky player this season.
"Oh my God," said Newton. "It's amazing what God can do in a person's life. Who would have ever thought a guy from College Park, Ga. would win an award this prestigious?" he added, cheesing.
In a year that saw the highest of the ups and the lowest of the downs for the Auburn junior, the 6'6", 250-pound quarterback ignored the controversy swirling around his name and ran away from the competition on the field to win the school's third Heisman Trophy over candidates Andrew Luck from Stanford, LaMichael James from Oregon, and Kellen Moore from Boise State.
Newton's untouchable year was filled with "Oh no he didn't" moments—as one ESPN analyst dubbed them Saturday—that featured the college football phenom dipping, dunking, and often running over opponents en route to 1,409 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
But his talents didn't stop there.
Does Cameron Newton deserve the Heisman Trophy?
He also led the nation in passing efficiency, completing 165 of his 246 passes for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns to lead his team to an SEC Western Divisional Title and ultimately a 56-17 win over South Carolina last week in the SEC Championship Game.
The NCAA ruled Newton eligible during the week leading up to the SEC Championship Game after finding no proof that the quarterback knew of father Cecil Newton's attempts to shop him around to other schools.
The elder Newton was given "limited access" to the university's athletic programs and opted out on attending the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York.
"For all of my fifty years of life, coupled with 25 years of marriage, I have made an exhausting attempt to be a good husband, father and generally a good person of integrity," said Newton's father in a statement released earlier this week. "The past 60 days have caused all that my family worked to accomplish to come into question. So that my son can receive all the honors and congratulations that he has worked so hard to accomplish and without distraction, I have decided not to be in attendance at the Heisman ceremony, as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
Newton maintains that he did nothing wrong and says he loves his father and looks up to him now just as he has his whole life. He also said he was disappointed his father decided not to attend the ceremony.
"I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I'm somewhat hurt," he said. "But that’s a decision that he made."
Newton will lead his undefeated Auburn Tigers into the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. on January 10th to face the Oregon Ducks.
One more victory, coupled with his Davey O'Brien, Maxwell, Walter Camp and Heisman Memorial Trophies resting beneath his Christmas tree in College Park, Ga., would give the Auburn quarterback a very Merry Christmas.