AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton had a good day Wednesday: not only was his eligibility restored by the NCAA, but he was named one of three finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
Newton has piled up the award nominations this year after accounting for 43 touchdowns and becoming the first SEC player to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 in the same season.
Oregon running back LaMichael James and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck joined Newton as Walter Camp finalists.
The recipient is voted on by Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors. The winner will be announced Dec. 9 during the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter.
Straight shot up I-85
Twelve players on Auburn’s roster played high school ball in the Atlanta area, making Saturday’s SEC championship game at the Georgia dome a homecoming of sorts.
“It’s real special,” said running back Mario Fannin, who is from Hampton, Ga. “It’ll be great to go home and play in front of your family and play in front of a lot of fans that can’t really come out here and see us play.”
Auburn’s Atlanta-area players include receivers Darvin Adams (Kennesaw), Antonio Goodwin (Atlanta) and Shaun Kitchens (College Park), linebacker Jessel Curry (Buford), offensive linemen Andre Harris (Lovejoy) and Byron Isom (Jonesboro), tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (Marietta), defensive backs Neiko Thorpe (Tucker), Demetruce McNeal (College Park) and Jonathon Mincy (Decatur) and Newton (College Park).
No ordinary freshman
Although South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is only a freshman, Auburn isn’t treating him like one.
“I wouldn’t say he’s young anymore,” defensive tackle Nick Fairley said. “He went through 12 games. Can’t say he’s young anymore. I know he’s matured a lot.”
Lattimore, who picked the Gamecocks over the Tigers after a prolonged recruiting battle last winter, has racked up 1,114 rushing yards this year, second most in the Southeastern Conference to Newton.
But he’s a also dangerous receiving threat too, with 23 catches for 328 yards and two more scores.
Auburn did a good job of containing him in the first meeting. Lattimore finished with 33 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries but left the Tigers impressed.