Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton is having a monster season. It’s a season that has garnered him favorite status in this season’s Heisman Trophy race.

Playing for the second-ranked, undefeated (10-0) Tigers, a team currently situated for a berth in the BCS national championship game, Newton has produced some eye-popping numbers.

 Newton has passed for 1,890 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also leads Auburn in rushing with 1,146 yards and another 15 touchdowns and has accounted for two or more touchdowns in every game this season.

But there is another number that threatens to topple Newton: $200,000. Allegations have surfaced that Newton’s father shopped him around when he was being recruited out of Blinn Junior College in Texas and allegedly offered his services to Mississippi State for that hefty sum.

According to a report at ESPN.com, Newton’s father, Cecil, allegedly told Mississippi State officials it would “take more than a scholarship” to secure his son’s services and referred MSU officials to another person who would provide more details. Mississippi State reported these to the Southeastern Conference.

Allegedly, according to the same report at ESPN.com, a source stated after committing to Auburn, Cam contacted another recruiter disappointed he wasn’t going to Mississippi State as his father had apparently chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”

That third party Cecil Newton is alleged to have tried to refer Mississippi State recruiters may have been Kenny Rogers who played at Mississippi State from 1982-1985. Rogers currently runs Elite Football Preparation. Rogers is listed as an agent whose company, according to a 2008 report in the Birmingham News, seeks to match high school recruits with collegiate football programs. Big red flag.

As one who has covered the collegiate football scene, I have run across such operations. Many are legitimate but many are more than shady and any operation that indicates it can “match” a student athlete with a collegiate program doesn’t pass the smell test.

Newton has come under further scrutiny for his brief tenure at the University of Florida before leaving and enrolling at Blinn in 2009. Newton is alleged to have been caught cheating three times at Florida according to FoxSports.com and was to appear before the Florida Student Committee for a hearing and potential expulsion.

Many schools sought Newton after his one season at Blinn, including Oklahoma whose head coach, Bob Stoops, indicated he observed nothing out of the ordinary in recruiting Newton.

There is an awful lot of smoke here, but keep in mind many of these allegations have yet to be proven and come from anonymous sources.

Some Heisman voters may be inclined to not consider Newton due to these allegations but what if a voter leaves Newton off his ballot only to later discover the allegations were false?

The Newton affair may demonstrate the seedy underbelly of college recruiting but as bad as it appears, he still deserves the presumption of innocence.

 

 Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.

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