Friday 20 October 2017 / 07:45 PM

CONTRASTING FORTUNES FOR FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES

Let me take you back a few years to a little place called ‘The Swamp’. This little place is actually not so little, and is home to three National Championships and 8 SEC titles. It’s a powerhouse that has produced NFL-caliber talent for years.

This trip we’re on goes back to 2007, almost a decade ago. The Florida Gators had just won a National Championship in 2006, and had a top-rated 2007 class of recruits. One of these was a five-star prospect out of Atlanta, Georgia by the name of Cam Newton.

When Newton got to UF, he wasn’t able to overtake Tim Tebow as a freshman. Tebow won the Heisman Trophy that year while setting multiple records, but the Gators finished with a 9-4 season and a loss in the Bowl game. In Newton’s sophomore season, there was some potential to beat Tebow out for his job and coach Urban Meyer said he was open to using both Tebow and Newton in a two-quarterback sort of offence.

Newton and Tebow are both pretty big guys, especially for college football, and I would have loved to see some trick plays involving the uber-talented duo. In 2008, Newton would play in the season opener but injured his ankle and took a medical redshirt season. Newton spent most of the season on the bench, watching Tebow lead the Gators to a 13-1 season and bring back the 2008 BCS National Championship.

Things were looking good for Newton, though. Tebow would be graduating soon, Newton would move up to starting quarterback, and all would be good in the Gator Nation. Things went south, however, when Newton was charged with stealing a laptop from another student, forcing him to transfer to Blinn College for a season.

To clear things up here, as a former student at the University of Florida, the world on the street is that he bought this laptop, which was already stolen property. The Cam Newton we know is passionate for helping kids, started a foundation for young people, and is an absolute top-notch role model. I mean, this same University of Florida team had Aaron Hernandez, who got into trouble regularly as well. One has a charity changing the lives of kids, the other is behind bars for (allegedly) killing three people.

Anyway, after a year at Blinn, Newton transferred to Auburn for the 2010 season. Newton led the Tigers to a 14-0 season and brought home a BCS National Championship against Oregon. He completed over 66% of his passes for 2,854 yards with 30 touchdowns, and had 1,473 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 264 rushing attempts. He also had one receiving touchdown, making 51 total touchdowns in the season.

It is interesting to look back at the interwoven lives of Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, and even Aaron Hernandez. Newton just played in his first Super Bowl and is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, whereas Tebow couldn’t find success with a team in the NFL and is now playing baseball with the New York Mets.

This gets you to think what could have been had Newton stayed at UF for the 2009 and 2010 seasons with coach Urban Meyer. As a Gator who started in 2011, it would have been nice to not have to have gone through four horrible seasons with terrible quarterbacks and poor coaching. I can’t help but feel extreme pride in how Cam Newton was able to turn a bad situation into a National Championship at an underdog school.

There are many things we can learn from Cam Newton’s story thus far. Looking back at the past couple years of college football, we’ve had the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case, the ensuing Joe Paterno scandal, convicting an NFL player and former NCAA star for murder, and who knows what else.

Thankfully, though, Newton emphatically overcame that setback to become arguably the brightest star in the NFL today.

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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