Who is Cameron Newton?

Who+is+Cameron+Newton%3F

Jason Galloway

In one sense, the characters do not match this story. Another perspective would say they fit perfectly.

Cecil Newton and his wife Jackie spent an entire year trying to muster the income to keep the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, where Cecil is a pastor, from being torn down. Before building codes were finally met, each extension the family received from the Newnan (Ga.) City Council was becoming another failed attempt at maintaining their livelihood.

“If you’ve ever seen our church, you’d know we don’t have any money,” Jackie Newton told ESPN. “We have nothing.”

Where the alleged $200,000 for Cam Newton’s college commitment would certainly meet their needs, most would assume it does not coincide with the church family’s character.

But whether the allegations are true or not, the severity of the accusations against Cam Newton would be enough to slow most 21-year-old athletes. His nine touchdowns in the two games since the first report surfaced have established him as a tough-skinned individual and proved that even under center, nothing can bother him.

“It was like he changed into another person when it was time to play ball,” said Hilda Hankerson, athletic director at Westlake High, Newton’s high school. “Knowing what I know about him, maybe it could weigh on his mind when he’s not on the football field, but once he gets on that field, there’s nothing else but football. Everything else is blocked out.”

But he hasn’t needed to block anything out yet. Newton’s two games since the first hint of his possible ineligibility have been in front of a Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd that’s behind him every step of the way.

Alabama fans don’t need any off-the-field distractions to faze an opponent, especially when that opponent is an Auburn Tiger. Friday’s Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa will play a big part not only in determining Auburn’s national championship hopes, but could also be the biggest threat to Newton’s growing legend. While the nation waits to see if Newton will be remembered as a Heisman winner or a fraud, the college junior just keeps playing like he always has, finding comfort on the field and in his claim of innocence.

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Newton said after Auburn’s game against Chattanooga on Nov. 6. “I’m an Auburn athlete, and I’m still playing for Auburn. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

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Newton went to the University of Florida in 2007 with a clean slate. He was a blue-chip athlete from a blue-collar family, and like the Gators’ starting quarterback at the time, Tim Tebow, he was “the preacher’s son.”

But less than midway through his redshirt freshman year, Newton found himself in unfamiliar territory – in a bad situation with the law against him.

According to a police report, Newton was found by law enforcement officers in his apartment with possession of a stolen laptop. When police left the room to confirm the IP address and acquire a search warrant, Newton threw the laptop out of his window. When the police could not find the laptop, Newton was arrested on felony charges of burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice, and the officers later found out through a text message that a friend of Newton’s hid the laptop behind a dumpster after it was thrown out the window.

Newton claimed he purchased the laptop without knowledge that it was stolen, and a close friend of Newton’s who was in contact with him the day he was arrested said Newton needed the laptop because his apartment had recently been flooded.

“The whole reason he went to jail that day, and even was charged with that, was because he had never had interaction with police, so he didn’t know how to interact with them,” said Newton’s friend, who would only speak on the condition that he remain anonymous. “Cam is really a good person.”

After his arrest, Newton was suspended from the football team and, according to the close friend, was alienated by the Florida coaching staff.

“He didn’t get a call from [head coach] Urban [Meyer] saying we’re going to stick with you through this time,” Newton’s friend said. “None of them defended him. They completely just ignored him. It wasn’t until they got the charges clear that they decided to meet with him.”

The friend also said when Newton returned to the team, coaches had special film sessions with Tebow and quarterback John Brantley that Newton had no knowledge of at the time, despite the fact that Newton was the Gators’ second-string quarterback. At the end of the season, Newton decided to transfer.

“Cam transferred from Florida because there was a lack of trust between him and the coaching staff, and he couldn’t believe a word they said,” Newton’s friend said. “He didn’t know if they were going to allow him to be the player he’s become at Auburn and which he could have been at Florida. He wasn’t going to put his future into Florida. Cam did not transfer because of the stolen laptop.”

Florida’s athletics department declined to respond to this reason for Newton’s transfer.

To avoid having to sit out a year because of NCAA transfer rules, Newton went to Blinn College in 2009, a junior college in Brenham, Texas.

“The first time I met him, I knew there was something special about him,” Blinn head coach Brad Franchione told chron.com. “The way he spoke, the way he looked you in the eye, the way he reached out and shook your hand. I knew there was something special.”

During his one year at Blinn, the only trouble Newton caused was to opposing defenses.  He passed for 2,833 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 655 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading the Buccaneers to an NJCAA National Championship.

What happened after that 2009 season is the time in question, a mystery that will ultimately determine Newton’s reputation, and possibly the future of Auburn football.

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Since the first time Newton took the field for Auburn in September, he has been the ultimate dual-threat quarterback. He has passed for 2,038 yards and 21 touchdowns, while rushing for an SEC-leading 1,297 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has taken an Auburn team that finished last year’s regular season 7-5 and transformed the Tigers into an 11-0 powerhouse heading into this year’s Iron Bowl.

“He’s done a great job of leading this football team all year long,” said former Auburn head coach Pat Dye. “He’s done everything a quarterback’s supposed to do.”

But days before Newton led 9-0 Auburn into a game against Chattanooga, ESPN started a long chain of reports accusing Newton and his father of possibly seeking money for Newton’s college commitment.

It seemed like a new development began coming out every day, new pieces of information that pointed toward a conclusion that would end Auburn’s dream season and Newton’s Heisman candidacy.

Foxsports.com even reported that Newton was facing expulsion from Florida before he transferred to Blinn because he was caught cheating three different times.

“Let me tell you something – this is a great kid,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said after the Chattanooga game. “This is a great kid and he’s been a great kid at Auburn University every day he’s been around me, this staff and his teammates. I don’t know what’s out there, but I can assure you this: this is a phenomenal young man. Make no mistake about that.”

The likable kid from a church family in College Park, Ga., was thrust into the middle of perhaps the biggest college football scandal of the decade. The NCAA is investigating Newton’s recruitment, but it is likely a decision will not be made on the quarterback’s eligibility until after the season ends.

Since the nation learned of his questionable recruitment, Newton’s performance has not changed. He has no reason to play any differently. If the allegations against him and his father are true, the damage has been done.

His goals remain the same: beat Alabama; win the SEC Championship; capture Auburn’s second national championship in school history.

He likely knows if those victories will be taken away, but all he can do is play and at least enjoy these moments while they last.

View the Cam Newton original police report from the University of Florida.