Auburn football notes: Tigers quarterback Cam Newton named AP Player of the Year

abitter@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 23, 2010 

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton added another award to his postseason haul, being named the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year on Wednesday.

The junior previously won the Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards. He also was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year.

Newton received 51 first-place votes from the 60-member AP panel.

Boise State’s Kellen Moore was second with three. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was third with two. Four ballots were unreturned.

Moving on up

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is proud of longtime protege and graduate assistant Rhett Lashlee, who agreed to be Samford’s offensive coordinator earlier this week.

Then he remembered that Auburn plays Samford next season.

“The stress level has already kicked in for me,” Malzahn joked. “He knows all the signals.”

The 27-year-old Lashlee has been at Malzahn’s side for years.

He played at Shiloh Christian High in Arkansas, where, under Malzahn’s tutelage, he finished as the national record holder for touchdown passes in a prep career with 171.

Lashlee walked on at Arkansas and served as a graduate assistant to Malzahn in his one year as the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator in 2006. After a two-year stint as a marketing director for VYPE Magazine in Arkansas, Lashlee joined Malzahn as a graduate assistant at Auburn before last season.

“He’s got a great mind; he’s going to be a great coach,” Malzahn said. “His best days are ahead of him. I ask a lot of him. He’s not a normal GA.”

Lashlee plays a prominent role in the Tigers’ sideline operation, in charge of the communication. He aids in the game planning and helps serve as a conduit to the quarterbacks.

“He can relate to the quarterbacks away from me about what I’m like, how I work,” Malzahn said.

Lashlee will stay on staff through the BCS title game.

“I don’t want him thinking about that other job either,” Malzahn said. “He will be locked in ready to go.”

Eye of a needle

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof pored over film of Oregon and still wonders how running back LaMichael James gets through some holes.

“I’ll tell you, it’s like he goes through the eye of the needle sometimes with some of his cuts,” Roof said. “You’re watching the end-zone tape, and there’s absolutely no hole there. All of a sudden, here comes this guy squirting out of there who goes 80 yards.”

James, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore, led the nation with 1,682 rushing yards, earning an invitation to New York as one of four Heisman Trophy finalists. He scored 21 touchdowns and averaged 6.0 yards per carry.

Roof said James is a physical, durable runner despite his size. But his speed is what catches everyone’s eye.

“(He can) be zero to 100 in three steps,” safeties coach Tommy Thigpen said. “So it’s going to create a lot of different problems for us.”

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