Cam Newton: College success, injury troubles and NFL MVP

Cam Newton

Cam Newton’s college career started at the University of Florida as a freshman in 2007 where he played backup quarterback to the eventual Heisman trophy winner, Tim Tebow.

Newton only played a handful games (five), throwing 3 touchdowns, during season. The Gators made it to the Capital One Bowl under Urban Meyer, but lost to a Chad Henne-led Michigan team.

In 2008, Newton’s sophomore year, he was arrested for larceny, burglary and obstruction of justice having been accused of stealing another student’s laptop. These actions led to him being suspended by the team. “I think every person should have a second chance. If they blow that second chance, so be it for them”, these were to be some of Cam’s last words as a Florida Gator.

In early 2009, Newton transferred to Blinn College where he led the team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship. It was a blessing in disguise moving from Florida and making a fresh start in Texas. Being named a Juco All-America honourable, most recruited Juco quarterback and number 1 ranked quarterback was only the start for Cam as his maturity and will to win started to shine through. Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Auburn all wanted the talented quarterback to be their QB1, Auburn was Newton’s next stop on his way to the NFL.

Newton’s glorious 2010

The 2010 season was the most successful for Newton in terms of records and trophies.

Auburn opened up with Arkansas State at Jordan Hare stadium, a home win and a break out game for Newton (5 total touchdowns and over 350 yards) signalled what was to come for the once shamed Newton.

Following on from the season opener, Newton threw the longest touchdown pass in Auburn’s history (94 yards) in one game and rushed for 198 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns in another. The move to Auburn had clearly been a good move for Newton who was now becoming a red hot candidate for the upcoming Heisman Trophy along with another quarterback who was to make it the NFL, Andrew Luck.
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Newton came out on top of this particular battle becoming only the 3rd Auburn Tiger to win the coveted Heisman (Pat Sullivan 1971 and Bo Jackson 1985). Auburn went on and won the SEC Championship, a game which made Newton only the third QB in NCAA FBS history to throw and rush for 20+ touchdowns. The other 2 quarterbacks to achieve this were Newton’s old team mate at Florida, Tim Tebow, and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick. In January 2011, Newton, fresh off winning the BCS National Championship and the Heisman Trophy, declared himself for 2011 NFL Draft in Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The Maxwell award in 2010, the Manning award in 2010 and the Heisman Trophy 2010 were only a small number of personal accolades, along with his Championships, that Newton was rewarded with. Next stop, The National Football League.

Going number one

Having finished the 2010 season with a losing record of 2-14, the Carolina Panthers had the number 1 overall pick in the draft and selected Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn.

Newton signed a 4-year deal worth over $22million, all of it fully guaranteed. The Panthers, who hadn’t had a solid QB since Jake Delhomme, decided to go all in on the talented Newton. Number 2 was Newtons college number, a number which he tried to buy at Carolina from Jimmy Clausen, a player who was to slip behind not only Newton but Derek Anderson. Clausen refused, and Newton went with number 1.
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Having jumped straight into a starting role, Newton made his NFL debut on the road in Arizona. It didn’t quite go as planned for the Panthers and Cam. Despite breaking Peyton Manning’s rookie record for passing yards (422 yards) and having a passing rating of 110.4, the Panthers went down 28-21 against the Cardinals.

On his home debut against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers, Cam continued to show why he was the number 1 pick in the draft, breaking his own passing record (432 yards), but again Carolina and Cam fell short. His rookie season finished with 4 wins from the final 6 games meaning the Panthers finished with another losing record of 6-10.

Immediate impact

A selection to the Pro-Bowl showed just how big an impact Newton had, not only on the Panthers but the league and his peers. It was another 2 seasons before Newton finished with a winning season when he guided the Panthers to the NFC South (12-4) after starting the season 1-3.

Unfortunately, Newton’s first playoff game ended in defeat to the Colin Kaepernick-led 49ers, who went on to lose the NFC Championship game. Once again Newton made the Pro Bowl. Ankle surgery kicked off Newtons 2014 season, an injury which had bothered him from his days at Auburn.

Throughout the season Newton dealt with many ups and downs, which included winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week followed by a car crash in which Newton fractured 2 vertebrae in his lower back. But the season ended with another NFC South title (7-8-1) and the first team to win the South back to back.
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The playoffs beckoned with a wild card home game against, the team that Newton made his NFL debut, the Arizona Cardinals.

Newton came out on top this time and won his first playoff game. The Divisional round game in Seattle proved a game too much, though.

2015 was the year when everything clicked for Newton and in a big way. Having won the South back to back for the first time, Newton led the Panthers to the hat-trick. Carolina started the season 14-0, the best start by an NFC team since the NFL-AFL merger. Their only defeat came at the hands of division rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. They finished the regular season 15-1.

Newton became the first QB in NFL history to win a game having trailed in overtime. More records were set, including becoming the only quarterback in NFL history to have 100+ passing touchdowns and 25+ rushing touchdowns in his first 5 seasons.

Winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Year 3 out of 5 weeks was another highlight in what was a surreal year for Newton. To close out the regular season, Newton won the 2015 NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year as voted by the PFWA.

Time for revenge

Newton got revenge on two teams who had beaten him earlier in his career. Seattle and Arizona were both taken down by the league MVP candidate, with the Denver Broncos next up, who had Peyton Manning and Von Miller (was taken #2 after Newton in the 2011 draft).

Super Bowl 50 will be remembered for Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset and Cam being afraid to dive on a fumble. So close, yet so far. P.s. Cotchery caught it.
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Back to earth with an almighty bang is the best way to sum up Newton’s 2016 season. Although it started off with more records tumbling, Steve Young’s rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (44) and his most games with a passing and rushing touchdown (32), that was about as good as it got as the Panthers fell to last place in the NFC South (6-10).

The less said about this year the better for the former league MVP. Surgery on a partially torn rotator cuff was next for Cam. Coming off surgery, Newton missed the preseason of the 2017 season.

The next chapter

Having started the league opener with a clear restriction in his throwing motion, Newton led the Panthers to a 23-3 win in Levi’s stadium against the 49ers. A return to the playoffs seemed a long way off after having had their franchise QB undergo surgery but the Panthers defense helped guide them to an 11-5 record and nursed the tentative Newton to second spot in the south behind bitter rivals and wild card opponents, the New Orleans Saints.

High flying New Orleans ended what was an above average season for Cam and the Panthers.

Hopefully Newton can now progress after an up and down few years. He now has a good wide receiving corp, a solid running back and a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner.

Check back in next year for an update on ‘Superman’.

About Adrian Drake 2 Articles
Hey! Adrian here, an Irishman who loves all things pigskin related, part time fantasy football enthuiast. Twitter: @adriandrake Email: adriandaviddrake@yahoo.co.uk