Auburn football: Cam Newton wins Manning Award, emphatically rejects the notion that his records should carry an asterisk

Says NCAA probe doesn’t hurt legacy

abitter@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 20, 2011 

AUBURN, Ala. -- The connection wasn’t great, but Auburn quarterback Cam Newton made it clear on a Manning Award teleconference Wednesday when asked whether he thinks an asterisk ever will be next to his name in the record books.

“No, sir,” he said with conviction. “I do not.”

Newton, who led Auburn to the national championship despite an NCAA investigation into his recruitment, added another trophy to his already impressive haul, winning the Manning Award, given after the bowl games to the nation’s top quarterback.

Newton previously won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award, in addition to being named player of the year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Associated Press..

But questions Wednesday weren’t about his accomplishments as much as what’s coming up for the junior quarterback, who declared for the NFL draft last week.

One topic was what he hopes his legacy will be.

“My legacy at Auburn or I hope the impact I’ve put on the NCAA is that here’s a young man that was very resilient and left it all on the field,” he said. “I really wanted to come out and try to be the best. … I play football to try to be the best, and that’s what I was striving to be this whole season.”

Newton faced public scrutiny after allegations of impropriety emerged about his recruitment. The NCAA ruled Newton’s father, Cecil, solicited money from Mississippi State but that Cam had no knowledge. Cam was ruled ineligible for one day in a procedural manner before being reinstated with no further penalty.

He said the external pressures weren’t too much.

“The Bible says God won’t put too much on a person that that person can bear,” Newton said. “And, obviously this season, I have been tested not only on the field but off the field.

“I think for me to play as well as I did, there are a lot of things that come into play: my supporting cast off the field, my family, just keeping my head clear throughout this trying time, and my teammates and obviously my coaches.”

Newton said he has been working out in the mornings and meeting with agents and marketing groups in the evenings. He hopes to have an agent picked this week.

He said the back injury he suffered in the BCS championship game against Oregon is not a problem.

“I’m going throughout my workouts every single day, and I feel great,” Newton said. “I feel like I’m continually trying to get better. By the time I have to perform in front of people, I’ll be in tip-top shape.”

Newton ran for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns and threw for 2,854 yards and 30 scores this season. Although he didn’t produce his usual performance in the BCS title game, Newton still threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 64 rushing yards in the Tigers’ 22-19 win over the Ducks.

“I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen a player put up numbers like Cam Newton did this year,” said former Mississippi quarterback Archie Manning, one of the award’s namesakes. “It’s amazing for a guy to account for over 50 touchdowns in a career, let alone one season.”

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