Cam Newton was rightfully awarded the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. The Auburn quarterback won in a landslide victory ahead of second placed Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford).
LaMichael James (RB, Oregon) and Kellen Moore (QB, Boise State) were also finalists.
With 2589 passing yards, 1409 rushing yards and 49 total touchdowns this season – there was never any doubt who deserved the award. Make no mistake – Auburn are in the BCS Championship because of their quarterback.
Before the deadline on January 15th, Newton will declare for the 2011 NFL Draft with a cluster of awards under his arm. He won the Maxwell and O’Brien awards earlier this week and now adds the Heisman.
I’ve discussed Newton’s pro-prospects often on this blog. I’ve included him amongst the top-ten picks in my mock drafts for the majority of the current college football season.
Initial suspicions that this was merely another run-first, athletic QB were cast aside with further research. This is a guy who has the arm, can make NFL throws with accuracy and precision and doesn’t go into the league needing major repair work to his mechanics.
There are improvements that need to be made – he needs to do a better job setting his feet and throwing less off the back foot. Like most rookies he’ll need to learn a playbook much deeper than he’s used to in college. Newton will need to work in a system completely different to that at Auburn where he’s required to make one or two reads before running.
That’s no different to any other rookie.
Newton restricts his mistakes, is capable of making big plays and managing situations. The pressure he’s been under this year will not have been matched with any other prospect in college football. He’s been able to put that to the back of his mind – win – and perform.
Coming from behind to win against Alabama was a defining moment in his development. So far, it might be the highlight in a year where Newton has dominated one of the strongest conferences in the game.
I understand why some high profile pundits are hesitant to put Newton as high as I have in their mocks. This is a guy with little playing experience (one year in the JUCO ranks, one year with Auburn). He’s also got some questions that need answering in team meetings during the draft process – not least his departure from Florida and recent issues involving his father and the ‘pay-to-play’ story.
As long as they can be answered then the sky’s the limit for Cam Newton. Today he won the Heisman – next April he could be back in New York to celebrate being a high pick in the draft.