Won and done: Auburn QB Cam Newton to enter draft

Cam Newton is going to to the NFL, and maybe leaving the

controversy behind.

Auburn said Thursday night that the Heisman Trophy-winning

quarterback is skipping his senior season to enter the draft after

one season as a major college starter, which included the Tigers’

first national championship in 53 years and a pay-for-play

scandal.

Newton and Auburn capped a 14-0 season with a 22-19 victory over

Oregon in the BCS title game Monday night. He said the decision was

”difficult for me and my family.”

”It’s been a blessing for me to be a part of something so

great,” Newton said. ”Any time you win games it’s a big deal, but

for this school to win a BCS national championship, what a way to

make people happy. Auburn is a special place that I can call

home.”

Now, the national champions are waiting on Lombardi

Award-winning defensive tackle Nick Fairley to announce his NFL

decision Friday morning in his hometown of Mobile. Fairley might be

the No. 1 overall pick, but the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton is the

guy that coach Gene Chizik called ”probably the best football

player I’ve ever seen” after the SEC championship game.

Both are junior college transfers, though Fairley has spent two

seasons with the Tigers.

Newton is a former backup to Tim Tebow at Florida who arrived

after leading Blinn College in Texas to a JUCO national

championship. He won on a much bigger stage with the Tigers.

”We appreciate Cameron’s many contributions to Auburn and the

outstanding leader that he was for our football team,” Chizik

said. ”He had one of the greatest individual seasons ever by an

Auburn player and was a key part of our championship run. Cam will

always be a member of the Auburn family and we wish him the best in

his future endeavors.”

The College Park, Ga., native was chosen the Walter Camp and The

Associated Press Player of the Year. Newton also won the Maxwell

Award as the nation’s top player and the Davey O’Brien Award as the

best quarterback.

The dual-threat star brought joy to Auburn, but some troubles

also came with him. He played under a cloud the last two months of

the season after reports surfaced that his father, Cecil, shopped

his services during Mississippi State’s recruitment of his son.

All that came of it so far is that Auburn declared Newton

ineligible the week of the SEC championship game against South

Carolina and the NCAA reinstated him a day later. The NCAA said it

hasn’t closed the case but that it had no evidence at the time that

Cam Newton knew about his father’s solicitation.

The case may prompt a new addition – call it ”Newton’s Law” –

in the NCAA rule book.

It was prominent and polarizing enough that NCAA president Mark

Emmert, speaking at the governing body’s annual convention

Thursday, called for new rules ensuring that parents can’t ”sell

the athletic services” of their children.

”If you look at the Newton case, a lot of people came away from

that, because it’s a complicated case, saying, ‘Gosh, it’s OK for a

father to solicit money for the services for his son or

daughter?”’ Emmert told reporters afterward. ”The answer to that

is no, it isn’t. But we don’t have a rule that makes that

clear.”

On the field, Newton rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns

while passing for 2,854 yards and 30 TDs. He set Auburn season

records for both rushing and passing TDs and total offense and an

SEC mark for yards on the ground by a quarterback.

Newton injured his back during the national title game but still

passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 64.

He was good enough to prompt South Carolina coach and 1966

Heisman winner Steve Spurrier to marvel: ”You can’t tackle him.

He’s almost a one-man show.”

Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in San Antonio contributed

to this report.