Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Cam Newton was a five star prospect coming out of Westlake High School. After initially backing up Tim Tebow at Florida during his freshman and sophomore years, Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, leading his team to the Junior College National Football Championship. After Blinn, Newton joined Auburn University for the 2010 season, where he was a dominant force for the Tigers.
It was apparent that Newton was a special player from his first game, where he accounted for five touchdowns and over 350 yards of offense, winning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Newton’s finest regular season moment may have been against archrival Alabama in the Iron Bowl, where the Tigers stormed back from a 24-0 deficit to win the game 28-27. Newton led the way with 216 passing yards and three total touchdowns. Auburn went on to crush South Carolina in the SEC Championship game, 56-17, with Newton scoring another six touchdowns. The Tiger’s undefeated season earned them a BCS National Championship Game berth, where they beat the Oregon Ducks 22-19 on a last second field goal, with Newton contributing 262 passing yards and two touchdowns. In addition to bringing a National Championship to Auburn, Newton also won the Maxwell Award as the most outstanding collegiate player in the country. After declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft a year early, Newton finished his Auburn career with 2,854 yards passing, 30 passing touchdowns, 1,473 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground, all while completing 66.7 percent of his passes and averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
The Carolina Panthers selected Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. His professional career began with a bang, as he passed for 422 yards in his first game as an NFL quarterback, adding another 432 the following week against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Despite the Panthers low win total, Newton was a standout, throwing for over 4,000 yards, 21 touchdowns and running for another 14. His impressive statistics earned him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and a Pro Bowl berth. Newton put up strong numbers in his second NFL season as well, and figures to be a force for years to come.
Winner: The Maxwell Award – 2010 Auburn University