GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It looks like former Florida quarterback Cameron Newton is getting another shot at playing big-time college football.
Newton, kicked off the team last year after he was arrested and charged with stealing another student’s laptop, led Blinn College (Texas) to the junior college national championship earlier this month and is being courted by several Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The junior college signing period began Wednesday, and according to Newton’s father, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound versatile quarterback is considering Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Kansas State, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Oklahoma and a few others.
Louisville and Mississippi State should be no surprise since both head coaches — Lousiville’s Charlie Strong and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen — watched Newton closely during his time in Gainesville.
Newton’s father, Cecil Newton Sr., told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his son was planning to visit Auburn this weekend.
Cecil Newton said his son expects to make a decision next week and will enroll in classes in January, hoping for a fresh start after spending the last 12 months recovering from what happened in Gainesville.
“It’s been a nightmare for the family,” said Cecil Newton, who lives in College Park, Ga. “I’m glad to see that chapter closed.”
The State Attorney’s Office dropped grand theft and tampering charges against Newton late last week after he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders that typically includes probation. Newton stayed out of trouble during his probation and appears to be on track to turning things around.
Newton was arrested in November 2008 after campus police said he stole a laptop worth $1,700, used it to log into the school’s network and then threw it out his dormitory window when officers arrived to investigate the alleged theft.
Cecil Newton said the incident was a huge misunderstanding. He said his son bought the laptop from another student and merely panicked when police started questioning him about it.
“Everything was misconstrued from the get-go,” Cecil Newton said. “He bought it from a kid, didn’t know it was stolen and then didn’t respond to the officers because he was afraid. He learned a life lesson early on.”
Gators coach Urban Meyer suspended Newton immediately. Newton transferred to Blinn College and was eligible to play this fall. He threw for 2,833 yards and 22 touchdowns, and rushed for 655 yards and 16 more scores. The Buccaneers beat Fort Scott Community College in the title game Dec. 6.
Newton played sparingly in two seasons as Tim Tebow’s backup. In 2007, he threw for 40 yards and ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, he played in one game because of injuries and threw for 14 yards and ran for 10 more and a score.
Although Newton is widely considered an option-style quarterback, his father said he wants to play at a school that will allow him to develop his skills as a prostyle passer.
“You can’t live and die with your legs alone,” Cecil Newton said. “He wants to be in a system that’s going to help enhance his future success.”
Mark Long/The Associated Press