Cameron Jerrell Newton (born May 11, 1989) is an American football quarterback for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Florida and Auburn. He was drafted as the first overall pick by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton is the only player in the modern era to be awarded the Heisman Trophy, win a national championship, and become the first overall pick in an NFL draft within one year. He was the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year, is a three-time Pro Bowler, and was named the NFL MVP in 2015. In his rookie year, Newton broke all-time NFL rookie records for passing and rushing yards. He became the first NFL quarterback to throw for 400 yards in his first game, shattering Peyton Manning's first-game record by 120 yards. He also broke Otto Graham's 61-year-old record for passing yards by any quarterback in an NFL debut. Newton went on to become the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He also ran for 14 touchdowns, more in a single season than any quarterback in NFL history, breaking Steve Grogan's 35-year-old record.
Newton capped off the 2015 season by capturing MVP honors and leading the Panthers to a 15–1 record and a trip to Super Bowl 50.
High school career
Newton attended Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia, where he played for the Westlake Lions high school football team. As a 16-year-old junior, he passed for 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 638 yards and nine touchdowns, gaining the attention of major college programs. In his senior year, Newton was rated as a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, and the 14th quarterback and 28th player overall. He received scholarship offers from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech. He committed to the University of Florida at the beginning of his senior year, becoming part of the top-rated recruiting class in the country for 2007.
University of Florida
Newton, far left, with Dan Mullen, John Brantley, Tim Tebow, and Bryan Waggener during his freshman season at Florida Newton initially attended the University of Florida, where he was a member of the Florida Gators football team in 2007 and 2008. As a freshman in 2007, Newton beat out fellow freshman quarterback John Brantley as the back-up for eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. He played in five games, passing for 40 yards on 5-of-10 and rushing 16 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns. In 2008, during his sophomore season, Newton played in the season opener against Hawaii but suffered an ankle injury and took a medical redshirt season.
On November 21, 2008, Newton was arrested on felony charges of burglary, larceny, and obstruction of justice on an accusation that he stole a laptop computer from another University of Florida student. He was subsequently suspended from the team. Campus police "tracked the stolen laptop to the athlete...Newton tossed the computer out his dorm window in a humorously ill-advised attempt to hide it from cops." All charges against Newton were dropped after he completed a court-approved pre-trial diversion program. "I believe that a person should not be thought of as a bad person because of some senseless mistake that they made," said Newton in 2010. "I think every person should have a second chance. If they blow that second chance, so be it for them." Newton announced his intention to transfer from Florida three days before the Gators' national championship win over Oklahoma. In November 2010, Thayer Evans of Fox Sports reported that Newton faced potential expulsion from the University of Florida for three instances of academic dishonesty, before transferring.
In January 2009, Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, to play for head coach Brad Franchione, son of Dennis Franchione. That fall, he led his team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship, throwing for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushing for 655 yards. He was named a Juco All-America honorable mention and was the most recruited Juco quarterback in the country. Newton was ranked as the number one quarterback from either high school or junior college by Rivals.com and was the only five-star recruit. During Newton's recruitment, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Auburn were his three finalists. He eventually signed with the Auburn Tigers.
Newton started the first game of Auburn University's 2010 season, a home win over Arkansas State on September 4, 2010. Newton accounted for five total offensive touchdowns and over 350 yards of total offense. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance. Three weeks later, Newton had a second break-out game with five total touchdowns and over 330 total offensive yards against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
On October 2, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 52–3 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. He completed three touchdown passes, one of which went for 94 yards. It was the longest touchdown pass and offensive play in Auburn football history. On October 9, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 37–34 victory over Kentucky. He passed for 210 yards and rushed for 198 yards including 4 rushing touchdowns. On October 16, 2010, during the Arkansas game, Newton ran for three touchdowns and threw one touchdown pass. Following these performances, media reports began to list Newton among the top 5 candidates to watch for the Heisman Trophy.
On October 23, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 24–17 victory over the LSU Tigers. He rushed for 217 yards in the game, giving him 1,077 yards for the season, and set the SEC record for yards rushing in a season by a quarterback—a record previously held by Auburn quarterback, Jimmy Sidle, that had stood for over 40 years. After this game, Newton became just the second quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in the conference's history. He also broke Pat Sullivan's school record for most touchdowns in a single season—a record that had stood since 1971—with 27. Both of these records were broken on the same play: a 49-yard touchdown run in which Newton escaped two tackles, corrected himself with his arm, eluded two additional tackles, and dragged a defender into the endzone for the touchdown. The play was described as Newton's "Heisman moment". Auburn received its first No. 1 overall BCS ranking, and Newton was listed as the overall favorite for the Heisman.
By halftime of the game against Georgia, Newton became the first SEC player to ever throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. With the 49–31 victory, Auburn extended its winning streak to 11–0 and clinched the SEC West, allowing them to play in the SEC Championship game. Newton led Auburn to a 28–27 victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl after being down 24–0. The 24-point come-from-behind victory was the largest in the program's 117-year history. He passed for 216 yards with three passing touchdowns and ran for another.
On December 4, 2010, Newton led the Tigers to an SEC Championship, their first since 2004, by defeating South Carolina 56–17, setting an SEC Championship Game record for most points scored and largest margin of victory. Newton was named the game MVP after scoring a career-best six touchdowns (four passing and two rushings). With his performance, Newton also became the third player in NCAA FBS history to throw and run for 20-plus touchdowns in a single season (along with former Florida teammate Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick, who reached the milestone earlier the same day). Newton was named the 2010 SEC Offensive Player of the Year as well as the 2010 AP Player of the Year. He was also one of four finalists for the 2010 Heisman Trophy, which he won in a landslide victory. He is the third Auburn player to win the Heisman Trophy (along with Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson).
Following the victory in the SEC Championship, Auburn was invited to participate in the school's first BCS National Championship Game. The game took place on January 10, 2011, in Glendale, Arizona, with Auburn playing against the Oregon Ducks. In a game that Steve Spurrier predicted to score as high as 60–55, Auburn beat Oregon just 22–19 to win the BCS National Championship. Newton threw for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed 22 times for 65 yards, though he lost a fumble that later allowed Oregon to tie the game with limited time remaining. Once Auburn received the ball, Newton drove the Tigers down the field to win the game on Wes Byrum's last-second field goal. Media outlets wrote Newton was upstaged by teammate Michael Dyer (the game's Offensive MVP) and Auburn's defense, which held the high-powered Oregon ground game to just 75 yards On January 13, three days after winning the BCS National Championship, Newton declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season.
In late January 2011, Newton began working out with George Whitfield Jr. in San Diego. Whitfield has worked with other quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Akili Smith. On April 28, 2011, Newton was selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He was the first reigning Heisman Trophy winner to go first overall since Carson Palmer in 2003. He also was Auburn's fourth No. 1 selection after Tucker Frederickson (1965), Bo Jackson (1986), and Aundray Bruce (1988).
During the 2011 NFL lockout, he spent up to 12 hours a day at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Florida, spending up to two hours per day doing one-on-one training with fellow Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke.
Before the draft, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson asked Newton to maintain his clean-cut appearance after Newton told Richardson he had no tattoos or piercings and was thinking about growing his hair longer. Although this is similar to a policy the New York Yankees has on all of its players, this gained some controversy on Richardson's part because other players on the team didn't meet these guidelines. Dave Zirin, a reporter for TheNation.com, even accused Richardson of racism. Despite this, Newton agreed to Richardson's requests and was drafted first overall.
Newton is the son of Jackie and Cecil Newton Sr., who was cut as a safety from the pre-season rosters of the 1983 Dallas Cowboys and 1984 Buffalo Bills, and the younger brother of Cecil Newton, Jr., a center who most recently played for the Baltimore Ravens. His youngest brother, Caylin, is starting quarterback for the Howard Bison. Newton was also a talented baseball and basketball player as a youth but developed a fear of being hit by a pitch in baseball and could not avoid foul trouble on the basketball court. He stopped playing baseball at 14 years old and quit basketball shortly into his high school career.
Newton is a Christian. Newton spoke about his faith after winning the 2011 BCS National Championship Game saying, "It’s just a God thing. I thank God every single day. I’m just His instrument and He’s using me on a consistent basis daily."
In addition to his commitment to football, Newton participates in motivational speaking.
On December 9, 2014, Newton was involved in a car crash in Charlotte; his vehicle flipped. Newton suffered two back fractures and was held overnight at the hospital for observation. Witnesses claim that the truck Newton was driving rolled over multiple times. Newton would make a full recovery in 12 days.
Newton graduated from Auburn with a degree in sociology in the spring of 2015.
Newton was formerly a self-proclaimed pescetarian. As of March 2019, he has become a vegan.
Newton partnered with Southern department store chain Belk on his clothing line, MADE by Cam Newton.
On December 30, 2015, Newton confirmed on Twitter that his girlfriend, Kia Proctor, gave birth to a son on December 24, 2015, in Atlanta. He also tweeted, "I've been quiet about this because I didn't want to create a distraction for my team and appreciate the privacy in this joyous time." In February 2017, Newton and Proctor's daughter was born. Proctor gave birth to the couple's third child, a boy, on July 2018.
On January 29, 2019, Newton announced plans for his first business venture, Fellaship. A cigar bar-restaurant located near Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta.