Given the Heismanesque (and probably Heisman-winning) junior season he's enjoying and his NFL-ready physique (did you know he's 6'6", 250? Have you heard that mentioned anywhere?), the question was inevitable: could Cam Newton go pro after his one and only season at Auburn ?
When asked that very question Tuesday, Newton demurred in his typically press-savvy fashion , but also left the door decidedly open for a potential early departure:
Newton, one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy, said he will come to a decision about whether he returns for his senior year once this season is over.Citing the need for team focus is a skillful rhetorical dodge (even the week of a homecoming game against an FCS punching bag), but reading between the lack of comments makes it clear Newton sees the NFL as an option, at least. That's also the situation as detailed by Auburn quarterback commitment and frequent Newton contact Kiehl Frazier of Springdale, Arkansas, who spoke to the Sporting News and confirmed the NFL is definitely on Newton's radar:
"There's a time and place for everything," Newton said Tuesday. "I'm not sitting up here and giving you a definite decision on how I'm feeling right now. How I'm feeling right now is UT-Chattanooga" ...
"I'm trying to partake and trying to grasp something that hasn't been done here in a long time," Newton said. "And we have a chance right now to seize the moment and we can't have those type of selfish thoughts to run through our mind, because it can be contagious and we don't want that around here."
After Newton leaves, Frazier is expected to be a serious candidate to start at quarterback – whether it’s as a true freshman in 2011 if Newton leaves for the NFL after this season — or as a redshirt freshman or sophomore in 2012.None of this is a surprise, of course; given the potential for Newton to earn megabucks as a first- or even second-round choice, the increased difficulty of returning to a 2011 Auburn team without huge chunks of its offensive line and starting defense, the wear-and-tear of running the ball as often as he does in the SEC , and inevitable emotional comedown in the event Newton's season ends in a Heisman Trophy and conference or national championships, he'd be a fool not to at least take a good long look at the NFL.
“(Newton and I” talk after just about every game, and he tells me the highlights are every game and his situation and what he’s thinking about the NFL,” Frazier told Sporting News over the weekend. “He’s not definite about anything yet. There’s definitely a chance that he’ll go. If he wins the Heisman, that would probably increase his changes of leaving. Right now I think he’s more focused on getting to the national championship.”
As Newton himself said, there's still so much information to gather before making a decision that now would not be the time even if he felt so inclined. But Auburn fans will have to live with the fact that, at the minimum, there will be a decision to be made when Auburn's exhilarating 2010 run is finished.