Recently, the Heisman Trophy winner has been a quarterback who has had the ability to not only throw the ball effectively, but torch defenses on the ground as well. Cam Newton was no different when he won the award as the top football player during the 2010 college football season.
In his only season with the Auburn Tigers after spending time at Blinn College in Texas, Newton led his team to a perfect record (14-0) and the second National Championship in school history. How did the NFL All-Pro quarterback work his way from Division I football, down to a junior college, and back up to become an all-time great Heisman winner?
Beginning his college career with the Florida Gators and sitting behind Tim Tebow for his freshman season, things didn’t exactly go as planned for Newton. He was caught cheating multiple times, including putting his own name on another student’s paper without his knowledge. He was also caught buying a stolen laptop.
He also had to go through controversy at Auburn with questions about a pay-for-play scandal involving his father, Cecil Newton, trying to get money from schools in return for his son signing a National Letter of Intent.
The reason this is important is because with these lows, the success he eventually had is that much sweeter. In late December 2009, Newton committed to playing for the Tigers, and the rest is history.
With 2,854 passing yards and 30 touchdowns to just seven interceptions paired with 1,515 total yards and 21 total touchdowns, Newton had one of the best single seasons by college football player ever.
Game 1: Arkansas State
The Newton era in Auburn, Alabama got off to an exciting start with the transfer passing for 186 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for a game-high 171 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. His top targets were Mario Fannin (four catches, 65 yards and two touchdowns) and Quindarius Carr (two catches, 87 yards and a touchdown).
Game 2: AT Mississippi State
The Tigers had an early scare when they played in Starkville, Mississippi on a Thursday night, pulling out a 17-14 win against the Bulldogs. Newton completed 11 of his 19 pass attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns while throwing his first interception of the season. He also rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries and had a 22 yard reception.
Game 3: Clemson
For the second-consecutive week, Auburn was locked in a battle. This time, it was against out-of-conference opponent Clemson. The Clemson Tigers jumped out to a 17-0 lead just before Auburn made a field goal as time expired in the first half. Newton struggled for the most part, completing just seven of his 14 attempts for 203 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He picked up 68 rushing yards, leading Auburn to 21 consecutive points scored in the third quarter, including a 78-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Zachery to take a 24-17 lead.
The game would eventually go into overtime after an Andre Ellington touchdown early in the fourth quarter tied the game. A 39-yard Wes Byrum field goal would end up being the difference in the game.
Game 4: No. 12 South Carolina
In their first game of the season against a ranked opponent, the Tigers took on the 12th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. Newton opened the scoring with a 54-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter, but it was another game where Auburn fell behind with South Carolina scoring 20-straight points behind Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore.
Another touchdown run from Newton just before halftime narrowed the lead to six. And with six minutes left in the third quarter, he did it again from four yards away to take a 21-20 lead. Stephen Garcia threw his third touchdown of the game to put the Gamecocks back in the lead a minute and a half later, but two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Newton put the Tigers back in front for good.
Newton finished with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-21 passing, as well as 176 yards and three touchdowns on 25 rushing attempts.
Game 5: Louisiana-Monroe
In easily his worst performance on the ground, Newton finished with negative-11 yards on one carry against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. He wasn’t needed much in the 52-3 win, but he did have a good passing game, completing 14 of his 19 attempts for 245 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Emory Blake had his highest yardage game of the season with 101 yards and a touchdown on two catches in this game.
Game 6: AT Kentucky
In a game that was pretty much the opposite of their other close games, Auburn gave up a lead to the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half. The Tigers jumped out to a 24-7 lead thanks to three rushing touchdowns from Newton. But 17 unanswered points from the Wildcats heading into the fourth quarter tied the game at 31.
It was a 19-yard field goal early in the fourth that gave Auburn the lead before Kentucky’s Craig McIntosh hit a 35-yarder to tie the game with seven minutes and 31 seconds remaining. As time expired, it was Byrum again who hit a 24-yard field goal that won the game, 37-34.
Newton completed 13-of-21 passes for 210 yards and an interception. He had one of his best rushing performances with 198 yards and four touchdowns on 28 attempts. Darvin Adams finished with a game-high 101 receiving yards on five catches.
Game 7: No. 12 Arkansas
This was a back-and-forth game between two ranked teams, Auburn and the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Tigers led by as many as nine points on three different occasions throughout the first three quarters, but the Razorbacks continued to fight their way back into the game. But after a Tyler Wilson touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter that gave Arkansas a 43-37 lead, Auburn went on a huge 28-point run to earn a 65-43 win.
Newton threw just 14 passes in the game with only four going incomplete. He finished with 140 yards and one passing touchdown while rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns on 25 attempts.
Game 8: No. 6 LSU
Against one of the top defenses in the country, Newton finished with his lowest passing-yardage total, but he had his highest rushing total. Auburn never trailed in the game with the LSU Tigers tying the game numerous times. With five minutes left in the game, Onterio McCalebb had a 70-yard touchdown run to take a 24-17 lead, which they would end the game at.
Newton completed 10-of-16 passing attempts for just 86 yards, but he rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. It was his third-straight game over 180 yards rushing and fourth-consecutive SEC game over 175. Leading running back and freshman Michael Dyer also had just his second 100-yard rushing game of the season with 100 yards on 15 carries.
Game 9: AT Ole Miss
Though Newton had his highest number of completions during the regular season in the Tigers’ win against the Ole Miss Rebels, that is not at all what it is remembered for. Though he completed 18 of his 24 passing attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns, it was a 20-yard receiving touchdown that is remembered from this game.
Out of the wildcat formation, Newton was lined up outside at receiver, and Kodi Burns tossed him a jump ball that he pulled down in the back corner of the end zone to tie the game. From the end of the first until the midway point of the third quarter, Auburn went on a 30-3 run to pull away from Ole Miss.
This was also Dyers’ best career game with 180 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He also had his second-best rushing performance against the Rebels in 2011 with 177 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
Game 10: Chattanooga
For the first time in his college career, Newton went over 300 yards in passing against Chattanooga. It was also his first time throwing for four touchdowns and third time finishing with five touchdowns total.
He completed 15 of his 21 attempts for 317 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 24 yards and another touchdown. Zachery had his best career game with 148 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
Game 11: Georgia
Once again, the Tigers found themselves down early in the game and had to dig themselves out of a hole. Newton rushed for a 31-yard touchdown early into the game, but three Aaron Murray touchdowns, two of those to A.J. Green, put the Georgia Bulldogs up 21-7 through the first quarter.
But 21 unanswered points, including two rushing touchdowns from McCalebb, put them back up by seven. Auburn finished the game on a 42-10 run after the first quarter with Newton completing a career-best 80 percent of his passes, going 12-of-15 for 148 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. He also ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 30 carries.
Game 12: AT No. 11 Alabama
With a perfect regular season record on the line in their biggest rivalry game — The Iron Bowl — Newton and Auburn once again came out slow. The Crimson Tide began the game on a 24-0 run, but 21 straight points scored by the Tigers put them right back in the game. A 32-yard field goal by Jeremy Shelley gave Bama a six-point lead late in the third quarter
With 11 minutes and 55 second left, Newton found Phillip Lutzenkirchen running in front of the end zone for a touchdown that put Auburn in front for good, winning the game 28-27.
Though he had games with fewer yards, this was by far Newton’s worst rushing performance with just 39 yards on 22 carries. He completed 13-of-20 passing attempts for 216 yards and three touchdowns though.
Game 13: SEC Championship
Newton followed up one of his worst statistical games with probably his best. Alabama’s defense was pretty good, so it is no wonder he didn’t put up insane numbers, but the Gamecocks were no match for the Heisman front-runner.
After barely beating the Gamecocks in their first meeting, Newton torched South Carolina en route to a 56-17 win in the conference championship game. He finished with a career-high in passing yards and total touchdowns. Completing 17-of-28 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns, plus 73 rushing yards and two more touchdowns in a game where there was doubt Newton would even play because of possible NCAA violations was a great way to finish his Heisman campaign.
The Auburn quarterback entered the Heisman Trophy Ceremony in New York as the clear favorite to win against Andrew Luck of Stanford , LaMichael James of Oregon, and Kellen Moore of Boise State. The votes made it clear there was no doubt he was the top player in college football though, with 2,263 total points and 729 first-place votes to become the Heisman winner. Luck finished in second with 1,079 points.
Newton was also named the Associated Press Player of the Year as well as a consensus All-American and any other award the best college football player could possibly receive.
Game 14: National Championship VS Oregon
The offensive firepower didn’t put up the crazy numbers many would have thought with the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks meeting in the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona, but it was definitely exciting.
There was no scoring in the first quarter, and then Oregon eventually took a small lead before Auburn jumped out to a 16-11 halftime lead. Byrum made a 28-yard field goal early in the third quarter to go up 19-11, a score that would hold until late in the fourth. With 2:33 left in the game, LaMichael James caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Darron Thomas, and Jeff Maehl caught the two-point conversion to tie the game at 19.
On the final drive of the game, it was Dyer who made the big plays with 57 yards on three carries, getting the Tigers down to the Oregon one-yard line with one second remaining in the game. Byrum, who did it all season, made a 19-yard field goal to win the game and crown Auburn as the national champions.
Newton completed a career-high 20 passes on 34 attempts for 265 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 64 yards on 22 carries in the final game of his college career.
Less than a week after winning the title game, Newton announced he was turning pro. He would be taken with the first-overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has been selected to three Pro Bowls and one First-Team All-Pro.
Newton was named NFL Most Valuable Player and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015 where they would lose to the Denver Broncos.
Not only has he solidified himself as one of the biggest names and faces in football, but Cam Newton is now one of the most marketable athletes in all of American sports. It all began with one magical season down on The Plains in Auburn.