UGA recruiting of Cam Newton? Square peg, meet round hole

Cam Newton struck Georgia coaches as more of a tight end than a quarterback. Really. (Associated Press)

Cam Newton struck Georgia coaches as more of a tight end than a quarterback. Really. (Associated Press)

It’s probably just as well that Mark Richt, who recruited Cam Newton out of Atlanta’s Westlake High School, wasn’t able to sign him.

As has been widely reported, Richt admitted at his Tuesday news conference that “We actually had him pegged as more of a tight end prospect. A lot of it had to do with what we like to do offensively, more of a fit than any disrespect to his type of ability to play quarterback. He’s proven to be pretty darn good though.”

Indeed.

Chances are it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. If the reports Newton left the University of Florida on the verge of being suspended or expelled for cheating violations are true, you can imagine he also probably would not have been a good academic fit at UGA.

Not to mention the fact that if he drove the streets of Clarke County like he did in Gainesville, where he racked up a dozen traffic offenses, he’d at the very least have gotten himself suspended by Richt in that regard. They don’t take bad driving lightly in Athens, you know.

Plus there was that whole stolen laptop thing at UF.

Still, the revelation that had he come to Georgia, Newton probably wouldn’t have been competing at the quarterback spot where he’s now a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy at Auburn has to give UGA fans pause.

What kind of talent evaluation system does Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner have that couldn’t see Newton as a quarterback? And what does it say about the philosophy of Richt and Mike Bobo that a player who leads the SEC in rushing, rushing touchdowns and passing efficiency wouldn’t have been a good “fit” offensively for the Bulldogs?

Of course, this is the same system that wasted a year of Knowshon Moreno by redshirting him and tried to make a tailback out of natural linebacker Richard Samuel.

I know college football recruiting is, to some extent, a crapshoot. But Cam Newton as a tight end?

Sounds like strength and conditioning isn’t the only aspect of Richt’s program that needs a good hard look.

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217 comments Add your comment

Paul H

November 10th, 2010
10:31 am

We dodged a bullet by not signing him.

RxDawg

November 10th, 2010
10:34 am

Hmm, good point Bill but hind sight is 20/20.

There are lot’s of 6′5″ 250# ers out there that can run and throw. Newton is a bit of a special case on the field. He’s also a bit of a special case off the field and it’s looking like he may take Auburn as far down as he took them up.

WAKA FLOCKA FLAME

November 10th, 2010
10:37 am

Look ma no hands

UGA1990

November 10th, 2010
10:38 am

Bill, give me a break! I think that Mark Richt and staff have done an excellent job of evaluating and recruting QB talent. Greene, Shockley, Stafford, & Murry. All 4 will end up drafted by the NFL. Also, we let another 2nd string QB go this summer that currently has offers from LSU, Texas A&M, and Alabama. I would say that Richt has an great track record with QB evaluation!

Bama Dawg

November 10th, 2010
10:38 am

Bill, you are starting to sound like a lot of the idiots that post on these blogs. They all seem to have tons of head coaching experience at a major SEC school, were All-Americans when they played college football and certainly could run the program much better than someone like Richt who has actually been involved in college athletics for 30+ years.

Since you like to live in the past, how about your thoughts on guys that Vince signed for one position and ended up a star at another (i.e., Dickey Clark – QB/Defensive End).

JMar

November 10th, 2010
10:38 am

Wasn’t Newton buried on the depth chart at Florida? Meyer had him at practice every day and still saw more in Brantley.

Gangster of love

November 10th, 2010
10:41 am

Bama Dawg – Dooley actually signed lots of QBs and moved them around.

Best example – Terry Hoage

outkasted

November 10th, 2010
10:43 am

dumb article considering GA wasn’t the only school who saw him as a TE…plus stafford was the QB at the time (true freshman) and knowshon was behind 3 upperclassmen running backs who had success prior to him getting there also wasn’t Samuel considered the top running back in GA when he was a senior…..dumb article

Bill King

November 10th, 2010
10:44 am

Bama Dawg:

The Dooley reference isn’t really applicable. Dooley’s philosophy was to recruit a lot of quarterbacks, since they generally were the best athletes, and then figure out where Georgia could best use them.

Bill King

November 10th, 2010
10:48 am

UGA1990:

No question, Richt has signed and developed some fine QB talent. And also some that didn’t work out, which is pretty much the case with every program. It just concerns me that Richt and company could be so locked in to one particular offensive “vision” that they couldn’t see a player like Newton fitting in at QB. Like I said, in every other respect he probably would have been a bad fit at UGA, but I’d like to see a little more flexibility in approach.

Sanford Drive

November 10th, 2010
10:49 am

I bet Cam Newton is wishing he would have just come to Athens and avoided everything that is following him now.

I personally, am glad we do not have him.

ALSO…. does anybody foreshadow Christian LeMay to be a little Cam Newton himself?? Both seem so similar, with their daddy running everything, similar type QB, LeMay already finding trouble….

LeMay… I am a die hard Dawg, and hope I am wrong about you, but maybe you should take a last look at a couple teams that run a spread offense, and take your controlling daddy with you.

BPClassof-85

November 10th, 2010
10:50 am

We never had a shot w/Cam Newton. We went about it all wrong by not including cash into our recruitment efforts.

William

November 10th, 2010
10:51 am

I’m no fan of Garner but this tells me that maybe Richt and Bobo knew something about the kid and didn’t want THAT problem. The question is…. did Newton have an interest in UGA?

Dean Tate

November 10th, 2010
10:52 am

Come on, Georgia had Matthew Stafford at the time. Newton didn’t have a great senior season throwing the ball, he was primarily a runner, which is why Meyer coveted him. He obviously didn’t impress Meyer too much — he was no. 3 on the depth chart when he left. Very few people would have foreseen what he’s doing at Auburn now. And he would have made a heckuva tight end.

Mike

November 10th, 2010
10:53 am

Bill … I graduated from Banneker in the late 90’s and always visited the banneker / westlake game when i had a chance. I had the opportunity to see him and Eric Berry single handedly demolish my school to say the least. That being said, Eric Berry would have had more of a chance to play QB at UGA than Cam. Cam was an oak tree amongst shrubs. Although he showed his arm off, he didn’t have to do anything BUT run. Eric ran and showed the ability to throw out with consistency.

I don’t think it’s anything against him, but it’s almost like Heyward and the statements of the other teams that passed on heyward. They didn’t see enough to recruit him as a QB. Sthinks ,btu sad reality … and I’m a dawg alumnus … and seeing him in high school, I’d be inclined to agree that they did the right thing considering what we ran. If you want to compare him to DJ, there isn’t one. DJ slung the ball all over the place at North Clayton.

Pup Fan

November 10th, 2010
10:54 am

And yet another negative DAWGS story from our greatest fan, Bill King. You should consider doing a blog about the band…’cause you don’t know squat about football. Hunker down Bill!

DawginLex

November 10th, 2010
10:54 am

I see Newton more like Shockley than a tight end. Maybe Richt saw the character flaws? Either way, Auburn got a good one but it remains to be seen at what cost.

dap01

November 10th, 2010
10:54 am

Off subject: But does anyone know why UGA coaches their QB’s to hold the football like a hot potato at arms length, while handing the ball off. It is as if they are aiming for the running back because they have never handed off the ball in their whole life. That method of handing off would surely not fool the defense.

butch miller

November 10th, 2010
10:58 am

let me join those who think you are way out of line in your opinions about evaluation and who plays where. Classic backseat driving. You certainly are entitled to your opinions, I just wish in this case you’d kept them to yourself, or change the title to your blog, maybe just “junk”.

heyberto

November 10th, 2010
11:00 am

No one was talking about Cam Newton until this year… not only that, was he a spread guy in high school? I’m not saying he couldn’t have played in a pro style offense, but how highly touted of a prospect was he? We’ve had no shortage of well thought of QB prospects, so it doesn’t make me think our coaches were/are bad at evaluating talent as much as I think they just didn’t have a need.

Dawg Man

November 10th, 2010
11:02 am

Dap- Funny you say that, I was thinking the same thing. We are the only ones who hand the ball off like that and we DON”T do that during play action plays so it seems you could predict what was going to happen at least somewhat if your’e on defense

DeepDiver

November 10th, 2010
11:08 am

Come back Bill. You are slipping into the lunatic fringe. Come back towards the light. Please.

Newman

November 10th, 2010
11:08 am

Donnan signed Greene and Shockley.

Dawgs73

November 10th, 2010
11:10 am

Bill, you are absolutely correct in regards this quote.

“Still, the revelation that had he come to Georgia, Newton probably wouldn’t have been competing at the quarterback spot where he’s now a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy at Auburn has to give UGA fans pause.

What kind of talent evaluation system does Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner have that couldn’t see Newton as a quarterback? And what does it say about the philosophy of Richt and Mike Bobo that a player who leads the SEC in rushing, rushing touchdowns and passing efficiency wouldn’t have been a good “fit” offensively for the Bulldogs?

Of course, this is the same system that wasted a year of Knowshon Moreno by redshirting him and tried to make a tailback out of natural linebacker Richard Samuel.

I know college football recruiting is, to some extent, a crapshoot. But Cam Newton as a tight end?

Sounds like strength and conditioning isn’t the only aspect of Richt’s program that needs a good hard look.”

I don’t know if it’s a disconnect in regards to Garner or if Richt is just not evaluating the “talent” that Rodney is recruiting. If you look at this objectively, Rodney is bringing in top talent and it’s really up to Richt and his staff to find the right fit for these players.

1eyedJack

November 10th, 2010
11:10 am

One of the things that is maddening about CMR is his strict philosophy of recruiting to “his” system. This can work well in the NFL where you have your pick of players and they have little choice. In college however, you need to be more flexible. Instead of recruiting the best players that fit your system you need to recruit the best players and mold your system to fit their talent.

This is why a C.J. Uzomah goes to Auburn instead of UGA. He’ll play QB at Auburn but UGA was recruiting him at TE. Just tell the players you’ll let them try any position they want to play. Once signed give them a shot. If it don’t work then redshirt them and move them to the position you think they fit best. They’ll either play that position or transfer.

Having said that, I’m glad we missed on Newton. Just extra baggage we don’t need right now.

Mike

November 10th, 2010
11:12 am

What troubles me is, we are finally getting QBs who can do what Charlie Ward did (Murray, LeMay). I thought mobile QBs who can throw would be the prime recruiting targets for Richt. We’ve only had 1 to date prior to Murray.

BG

November 10th, 2010
11:13 am

Bill, Cam’s family probably got paid by UF from the start and Auburn paid him out of JC. Mark Richt probably picked up on this from the start and ran the other way.

UGA Insider

November 10th, 2010
11:23 am

Many fans don’t realize this but UGA will scrap the pro-style offense next year and move to more of a spread type offense that Richt used at FSU. We are only running pro-style because we promised Stafford and then AJ during recruiting that the pro-style is all UGA would run. Lemay is coming in thinking that there will be much more of a spread option and Crowell has been told many of the same things. This is probably another reason we have lost out on so many big name receiver’s lately. Murray will excel in the new offense for sure. This is saying of course that CMR does not spurn the Dawgs and go to Miami.

C U Later

November 10th, 2010
11:25 am

Bill, you have been reading too many articles by Bradley and Schultz and their negative support of CMR. You are supposed to be representing the best support of the coaches and team that UGA has. I propose that you give up this blog if can’t do that anymore and go launch one for the bumble bees.

Athens= God's Country

November 10th, 2010
11:27 am

Newman, while yes Donnan did sign Greene, Mark Richt signed Shockley. Shock was leaning to FSU because of Richt. Richt got the UGA job and the rest is history. Get your facts straight or get off the blog

Dawg 39

November 10th, 2010
11:28 am

We did not sign him. Thank God we did not sign him. Can you imagine the field day that the AJC & ESPN would be having If It had been the Dawgs that signed him.We dodged a bullet on that one.

TommyP

November 10th, 2010
11:29 am

Cam Newton was strictly a spread QB coming out of high school. A pro style offense was not going to bring out his talents.

Think of it this way….what will Newton be at the NFL level? QB? No. TE? Absolutely. He’s a beast running the ball with his size/speed/athleticism combo.

It was VERY COMMON INFO that he was a poor passer. This was the thinking at Florida as well. Malzahn has done a masterful job with him.

powerhouse?

November 10th, 2010
11:29 am

Bill, do you and Coach (I assume you call him Mark) play golf very often?

SOUTHGADAWG88

November 10th, 2010
11:30 am

Vince told both Charlie Ward and Shuan Jones from Thomasville that he didn’t think either was a college level QB.Which after signing James Jackson as a QB is one of the alltime head scratchers in player evaluations

Athens= God's Country

November 10th, 2010
11:32 am

Thank God we didn’t sign Newton.
Nick Saban will be the Cowboys next coach.
UGA will win out.
Richt returns next year.
All the fairweather fans return with smiles.

Sam

November 10th, 2010
11:33 am

Was Shockley drafted? I thought he signed as a free agent. Granted, he was sort of on the Falcons roster.

moops

November 10th, 2010
11:37 am

Bill – Hindsight is always 20/20. However, before he left UF, he was 3rd string. All accounts at the time said he was not playing well at all, at least not the level he is now.

Do you honestly think Urban would have let Cam leave had he been the player he was then? If you beleive that, I’ve got some swamp lands I’d like to sell you.

moops

November 10th, 2010
11:37 am

Sam – Shockley was draffted in the 7th round.

Frank Lane

November 10th, 2010
11:38 am

I am glad that we did not sign him, regardless of our record. This young man is a problem and I sense that his father is also.

Sam

November 10th, 2010
11:39 am

I seriously doubt that Saban will leave Alabama for the NFL. The only way he goes is if he gets fired.

SOUTHGADAWG88

November 10th, 2010
11:39 am

Looks like Urban tried as hard as he could to hold onto Cam considering the long list of things he got caught up in during his short stay in Gainsvile.

True Dawg

November 10th, 2010
11:45 am

Bill I agree with you-That newton was not looked at as a qb is absurd!! I dont think Garner is worth the fuss over him! Dont you agree?

Jared

November 10th, 2010
11:45 am

UGA Insider

do you have any actual proof of this?

Newman

November 10th, 2010
11:46 am

Athens…Donnan began the process with Shockley and Richt took over. He threatened to go to FSU after Donnan was fired. Shock had verbally already committed. Get YOUR facts straight.

Ummm, what

November 10th, 2010
11:47 am

Bill, you have to be kidding me. I am sick of all the negativity you are directing to Richt. Leave him alone. UGA football will be back. You need to stop writing these bashing articles. I come to your blog for information about the football, not some idiotic opinion about our recruiting strategies.

Joe

November 10th, 2010
11:48 am

BG at 11:13am – you are 100% correct. My guess is the Newtons tried to get the Dawgs into a bidding war and CMR wanted none of it. The only way for CMR to avoid being in the middle of this is to take one for the team and say they mis-evaluated him. Kudos to CMR for being a stand-up guy and representing the Bulldog Nation the right way. Auburn and Florida are gonna get burned by this.

dawgster

November 10th, 2010
11:55 am

Bill….i usually think your comments are pretty much right on…but this time i would have to disagree…lets go ahead and forget the problems that he had or appears to have had…the end result is not known, but i believe Au before its over is going to suffer because of this and possibly Miss State and the gators…how does one get by with all the traffic violations that are being reported…if this was at UGA…we would have everyone throwing the coaching staff and the player under the bus…don’t understand what went on down in gatorland, but Cam may have bigger problems, again, if this stuff is true…right now its only accusations…but to get into the discussion as far as Cam being seen as a TE…alot of teams were expressing the same interest…he in truth was not seen as being comfortable in a pro-style offense…of course we have seen what he can do…looks like he developed very well after high school…but some of the above comments are right on…at Fla he was behind Tebow and Brantley…so their coaches didn’t see all of this either…you are being unfair in judging our Coaching Staff in this matter…its real easy to second guess now…real easy…but at the time thats what many people saw in him…that was nothing against the young man, but at 6′-6″ and 250 pounds, i would have also thought TE as a very viable option..I’m also not saying that our coaching staff has been right on in some of their evaluations, but what i do know is that they have done pretty well in the QB dept and other areas also, not only with 4 or 5 star recruits, but also the unkiowns…don’t blame Coach Richt and staff for not signing Cam, if you want to say they missed on him, then fine, but so did alot of others…go dawgs

SOUTHGADAWG88

November 10th, 2010
11:57 am

We rated CJ as a TE too

just a fan

November 10th, 2010
11:57 am

If Saban goes anywhere it will be to University of Michigan

SOUTHGADAWG88

November 10th, 2010
11:59 am

When Saban starts talking about unrealistic fan expectations Bama fans better get nervous