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Cam Newton. As a 16-year-old junior, Cameron Jerrell "Cam" Newton, born May 11, 1989, passed for 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 638 yards and 9 touchdowns, playing for the Westlake High School Lions in Atlanta, Georgia. He immediately started getting the attention from several major college programs. As a senior, he named a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, and rated the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation. Overall, he was ranked 28th among prospects. He received scholarship offers from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. At the beginning of his senior year, Cam committed to the University of Florida.
Cam entered University of Florida and made the Gators football team serving as back-up quarterback to Tim Tebow in 2007 and 2008. He played in five games as a freshman, passing for 40 yards on 5-of-10 and rushing 16 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns. In 2008, opening his sophomore season, he suffered an ankle injury in the season opener against Hawaii and, consequently, took a medical redshirt season.
On November 21, 2008, Cam was arrested for the theft of a laptop computer from another University of Florida student. He was suspended from the team. All charges against him were eventually dropped after he completed a court-approved pre-trial diversion program. "I believe that a person should not be thought of as a bad person because of some senseless mistake that they made," said Newton in 2010. "I think every person should have a second chance. If they blow that second chance, so be it for them." Three days before the Gators' national championship win over Oklahoma, Cam announced his intention to transfer from Florida.
In January 2009, Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, to play for head coach Brad Franchione, son of Dennis Franchione. That fall he led his team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship, throwing for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushing for 655 yards. He was named a Juco All-America honorable mention and was the most recruited junior college quarterback in the country. He was ranked as the number one quarterback from either high school or junior college by Rivals.com and was their only five-star recruit. Heavily recruited, he narrowed the field to Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Auburn and eventually signed with the Auburn Tigers.
Newton opened Auburn's 2010 season at quarterback and was immediately successful. During a home win over Arkansas State on September 4, 2010 he accounted for 5 total offensive touchdowns and over 350 yards of total offense. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Three weeks later Newton had a second break-out game with 5 total touchdowns and over 330 total offensive yards against the South Carolina Gamecocks. "That's a great SEC win against a really, really good football team. I can't be more proud of our guys," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.
On October 2, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 52–3 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. He completed three touchdown passes, one of which went for 94 yards. It was the longest touchdown pass and offensive play in Auburn football history. On October 9, Newton led Auburn to a 37–34 victory over Kentucky, passing for 210 yards and rushing for 198 yards including 4 rushing touchdowns. On October 16, during the Arkansas game, Cam ran for three touchdowns and threw one touchdown pass. Following these performances, media reports began to list Newton among the top 5 candidates to watch for the Heisman Trophy.
Following a 24–17 victory over the mighty LSU Tigers, Auburn received its first No. 1 overall BCS ranking, and Newton was listed as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy. With a victory over the Georgia Bulldogs, the Tigers improved to 11–0 clinching the SEC West, and putting them in the SEC Championship game against South Carolina. Next, In their annual battle against rival Alabama, The Iron Bowl, they overcame a 24-0 deficet to win 28-27.
They rolled over South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game 56–17, setting an SEC Championship Game record for most points scored and largest margin of victory. Cam was named the game MVP after scoring a career-best six touchdowns (four passing and two rushing). With his performance, Newton also became the third player in NCAA FBS history to throw and run for 20-plus touchdowns in a single season (along with former Florida teammate Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick, who reached the milestone earlier the same day). Newton was named the 2010 SEC Offensive Player of the Year as well as the 2010 AP Player of the Year. He was also one of four finalists for the 2010 Heisman Trophy, which he won in a landslide victory. He was the third Auburn player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson.
Next came Auburn's first BCS National Championship Game. In a game that Steve Spurrier predicted would be high-scoring, Auburn beat Oregon Ducks 22–19 to win the National Championship. Newton threw for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed 22 times for 65 yards, though he lost a fumble that later allowed Oregon to tie the game with limited time remaining. Once Auburn received the ball, Newton drove the Tigers down the field to win the game on Wes Byrum's last-second field goal. On January 13, three days after winning the BCS National Championship, Cam declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season.
On April 28, 2011, Newton was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft . He was the first reigning Heisman Trophy winner to go first overall since Carson Palmer in 2003. He also was Auburn's fourth No. 1 selection after Tucker Frederickson (1965), Bo Jackson (1986), and Aundray Bruce (1988).
In his rookie year, Newton broke all-time NFL rookie records for passing and rushing yards. He became the first NFL quarterback to throw for 400 yards in his first game, shattering Peyton Manning's first-game record by 120 yards. He also broke Otto Graham's 61-year-old record for passing yards by any quarterback in an NFL debut. Newton went on to become the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He also ran for 14 touchdowns, more in a single season than any quarterback in NFL history, breaking Steve Grogan's 35-year-old record.
In 2015, Newton became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and rush for 10 in the same season (35 passing, 10 rushing). He also became the only quarterback ever to have 300 yards passing, 5 touchdown passes, and over 100 yards rushing in the same game. Newton capped off the 2015 season by capturing MVP honors and leading the Panthers to a 15–1 record and a trip to Super Bowl 50.1
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