AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is one step closer to claiming the school’s first Heisman Trophy in 25 years.
Newton was named one of four finalists for the award Monday, five days before the winner will be announced at 8 p.m. at the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square in New York City.
The other finalists are Oregon running back LaMichael James, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.
“I’m very honored and blessed to be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy with some other outstanding players,” Newton said in a release. “Like I’ve said, this is not an individual honor, but a team honor. I wouldn’t be in this position without my great teammates, coaches and the Auburn family.
“Since I was a young boy, playing the game of football has been a pure joy, and this season has been a very special one for my teammates and for me.”
Newton has accounted for a nation-best 49 touchdowns this season, setting Auburn single-season records for passing touchdowns (28) and rushing touchdowns (20) while also catching one.
He leads the nation in passing efficiency (188.16) and leads the SEC in rushing (108.4) and total offense (307.5).
The other candidates bring impressive credentials as well. James, a sophomore who helped lead the Ducks to a 12-0 record and matchup with Auburn in the BCS title game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz., leads the nation with 1,682 rushing yards. He has 21 rushing touchdowns.
Luck, a junior who could be the No. 1 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, has thrown for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns this year, leading the Cardinal to an 11-1 record and berth in the Orange Bowl.
Moore, a junior, is second nationally in passing efficiency to Newton, helping lead the Broncos to an 11-1 record. He’s thrown for 3,536 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Auburn has had two Heisman Trophy winners in its history -- Bo Jackson (1985) and Pat Sullivan (1971).
Tigers head coach Gene Chizik, who will join Newton on his trip to New York, made it clear Sunday what he thinks of his quarterback’s Heisman worthiness.
“When you look at everybody’s body of work across the country, I don’t know how he can’t be considered very highly and possibly the winner of the Heisman,” he said.
“Somebody asked me if I think he is the best player in college football. In my 25 years of doing this, he is the best player I have been around, and I have been around some great ones.”