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

Ummm, what

November 10th, 2010
12:01 pm

Also Bill, I am sick of all this Monday Morning QB talk by you and many other fans. Richt is doing the best he can.

Ummm, what

November 10th, 2010
12:02 pm

I think we need a good hard look at a new “Junkyard Blawg” writer.

chris

November 10th, 2010
12:04 pm

auburns gonna beat the breaks off georgia this weekend stop hatin on cam just wait until he breaks out the cammy cam juice lol f*ck the bulldogs

Supes

November 10th, 2010
12:04 pm

We have had some GREAT QB’s the past 10 years in UGA…but look at some of the “not so great ones” as well…

Blake Barns, Joe T. the III , Joe Cox….and Logan Gray??? Great talent evaluators…maybe but the backups leave a lot to be desired. Look at FLA…they don’t really see Brantley as a fit they have 2 guys to take over at the position…who does UGA have???

Bigboy

November 10th, 2010
12:05 pm

Southgadawg88…I think it was little Jackson’s play at QB that soured Vince on those kids prospects at QB.Turned out to be a mistake though but it was somewhat understandable.

McDawg

November 10th, 2010
12:08 pm

whine whine whine

59bulldawg

November 10th, 2010
12:20 pm

Bama . . . you’re comparing apples to oranges. Dickey was recruited as a QB and actually started a game before giving way to Goff and Robinson. Bill’s right on this one. It makes one question CMR’s assessment of talent and you don’t have to be a freaking coach to see it. My God man . . . coaching isn’t like nuclear physics . . . it doesn’t take a genius to recognize talent. I don’t mean to belittle coaches . . . years ago I was an assistant high school football coach myself. But the idea that only a coach can understand what and why a coach does what he does is simply ludicrous. Yes there are folks without a clue who criticize coaches. But to me they are no less of an idiot than those who place coaches on an untouchable pedestal as some type of deity whose knowledge of the game is unassailable.

Gbal

November 10th, 2010
12:24 pm

Bill and Tony both seem to be joing Bradley and Shultz as Dog bashers. Must be a mandate from management at the AJC…. Need More Hits…Dont write about the sport itself… Focus on stirring the pot which gets us hits…

I will say this however, I have questioned CMR’s system and have considered whether or not it might be outdated.

> We have heard opposing coaches say that we are predictable and been doing the same thing for years.

> Our system on O seems pretty simple (predictable), but we do constantly hear from our coaches that our players are slow to be able to take too much in and that we have to spoon feed a little at a time (lately this takes half a season it seems)

> Unless we have a group of players that can physically punish the opposing D, Im not sure that the pro style O is best in todays college football. Might need a change up in Offense style that is more finness and keeps opposing D guessing.

I do think we have landed some players based on runnig the pro style offense however (Stafford/Murray)

Just thoughts, but I do think it might be worth considering…. changing up our O phylosophy a bit… or either give our players credit or expect them to be able to take in more to make us more unpredictable and to start a season… not four of five games into it.

Bigboy

November 10th, 2010
12:26 pm

some guys just don’t fit what you do…I couldn’t see Tebow over Stafford in our system but Tebow was one of the alltime great COLLEGE quarterbacks

saban

November 10th, 2010
12:29 pm

He would fit right in with the boys from Clarke County Correctional.

Unfortunately the Dawgs didn`t have a spare 200,000 to pay.

Cheap Dawgs.

EC

November 10th, 2010
12:31 pm

yeah, you sure did… moron… lol

dawgster

November 10th, 2010
12:32 pm

Personally, i hope all the negative talk regarding Newton is false, but the old saying is where there’s smoke there is fire…I hope Au did their homework on him..but some things coming out cannot be good for their program or Newton…The NCAA will find out, may not be this year, but you can bet your life they will, if the allegations, and thats all they are…one thing i did find interesting however was that the father’s church had some issues with building compliance and needed money fix some problems…based on what i read, they secured some funds, but the father will not say where they came from, which is their right, but with what is taking place, it may be wise to disclose that…of course i’m sure that will be done at some point to the proper authorities, not on this blog site…its a shame that sports has come to this type of attacks and accusations with these young people…yes, some may be deserving, if they broke rules…i know in the AJ situation, they were looking into if he visited Miami or not and upon further investigation, they found out about the Jersey…i will say this to close, if the allegations are found to be untrue, alot of people will have to answer as to why certain things came out and that to me would include Miss State and Florida….

59bulldawg

November 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

Most of the criticism that I’ve read of Richt’s assessment of Newton as a tight end has not been directed as much at our failure to get him as it has that we couldn’t envision him as a college quarterback. While it might be true that he would not have been a good fit in our system, unless CMR was less than serious, that’s just difficult for most folks to hear. And with the other points that Bill brings up in his article, it does make most folks wonder what in the world is going on with talent evaluation in Athens. This is not the same cheap shot that Barnhart took at the program with his Grantham comments.

Barnard

November 10th, 2010
12:36 pm

Bill–

Come on.

Firstly, Georgia does not run a spread offense. Not looking for Cam Newton, Tim Tebow QB’s.

Secondly, it’s in the best interests of Cam Newton’s NFL future to be a tight end, instead of a running QB. Ask Tebow, or the past Heisman winning QB runners. Florida & Auburn are not seeking what’s best for Cam in the long run, only what’s best for them in the short run. They could care less about his long term career, post-college. Richt doesn’t.

Thridly, Richt has sent more players ot the NFL than Saban, Miles, Meyer, or Brown, so the NFL thinks Richt knows how to see and deveop talent.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

Bill, I like your articles, but if I had to wager, I would wager that you don’t follow recruiting much. There is nothing wrong w/ that, but it is VERY obvious in your articles. There is nothing wrong w/ our recruiting. Now the coaching on the other hand….

Fwiw, the main reason Newton did not come to UGA is b/c he stated that did not want to be “…another DJ Shockley.” UGA and Newton were never serious about each other.

Beach Dawg

November 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

So let me understand — Newton is known to have dealt in stolen property; is alleged to have cheated as a college student, not once but twice; and family is rumored to have shopped his talents for a bit of cash. And this makes Richt stupid?? Bill you are struggling more and more to be relevant!!

Bigboy

November 10th, 2010
12:39 pm

I watched that ESPN special on Marcus Dupree last night and it reminded me just how prevalent this kind of stuff was back in the day.Every bigtime program out there has a few skeletons in the closet.The money out there today is sick so who knows what’s really going on.

This Is A Problem « The Grit Tree

November 10th, 2010
12:43 pm

[...] UPDATE:  Bill King shares a similar sentiment. [...]

ApopkaDawg

November 10th, 2010
12:48 pm

Great article Bill! If UGA had recruited Newton he would have fallen in line with all the other big time names that have come to UGA recently and suddenly disappeared. Marlon Brown? Orson Charles (not counting last 2 games)? Israel Troupe? All of these guys were / are highly recruited guys who are extremely talented. None of them are household names such as Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey. As far as CMRs past is concerned, all I have to say is WHY red-shirt Knowshown and why is it that we had Joe Cox (a highly recruited QB out of high school)spend 5 years in the UGA “system” and not do any better than he did. Finally, last year was the biggest slap in the face when it comes to recruiting. The state of GA has the most blue chip prospects we have had in a number of years and what does CMR do? We have the worst recruiting year we have had while under CMR. Gardener, it has been real man, but it is time to GO.

Beach Dawg

November 10th, 2010
12:48 pm

Bill, Your comment ” 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.” really makes me question your thought process and football knowledge!!! So you are suggesting that when Richt sees a stud like Newton that he should change his whole offense on the “hope” that the stud will be the savior. So given your thoughts on offensive “vision” he and his coaching staff would constantly be building around the next stud. Help me understand!!!

azdawg

November 10th, 2010
12:52 pm

Mr. King you’re right on target and couldn’t agree more. You don’t allow a talent like CN get away. GA’s had problem children before and they either straightened out or left the team. Same would have been true for newton. UGA’s problems of late run the gauntlet from recruiting to coaching and its all led to a stready decline in GA’s overall program and resulted in 9 losses to date dating back to last season. It’ll most likely get worse next season as we lose quite a few seniors and jr’s departing for the NFL. Combine that w/the current crop of coaches at UGA and the outlook is dismal.

Until this season, I believed CMR was the right coach for UGA. However, his decision to allow his DC, Grantham, continue his losing ways on soft zone has cost this team greatly. At least Tubberville had the guts to can his OC in mid season at AU, showed he was willing to change. Richt will not and its costing GA games. Its time for a change at head coach at GA. There won’t be a change of fortunes as long as Richt is head coach unless he makes drastic changes in this program.

Jackson

November 10th, 2010
12:54 pm

Perhaps Richt saw the kid had some CHARACTER flaws too.

It’s not just about how talented a kid is, if the kid has no character, you pass.

2 weeks 2 late

November 10th, 2010
12:55 pm

Bill, I think you blog would have been better recepted had you posted it 2 weeks ago before the piles of negetive publicity cam is pulling in, and it just seems to keep growing. No recruit is worth that much negetive publicity.

2 weeks 2 late

November 10th, 2010
12:55 pm

Bill, I think you blog would have been better recepted had you posted it 2 weeks ago before the piles of negetive publicity cam is pulling in, and it just seems to keep growing. No recruit is worth that much negetive publicity.

Same Houston

November 10th, 2010
12:56 pm

He would not have been a good academic fit? Your joking right? He got in at Auburn….nuff said. The Georgia program is already falling a part due to the current thugs on the roster!!! The only think Georgia should be concerned with is being bowl eligible!!!

Jackson

November 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

Georgia is set up with 2 top rankied Pro Style QB’s Stafford & Joe Cox at the time. Then went out and got the #3 ranked QB in the country Murray, and this year, has the #2 ranked QB in the country, Lemay. Over time, Murray & Lemay’s legacywill outshine Newton’s.

Beach Dawg

November 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

Sam Houston — speaking of academics, I love your spelling

Delbert D.

November 10th, 2010
1:02 pm

Somebody on this blog asked what kind of prospect Newton was in high school. I’ll just submit this info that I’ve posted before:

Rivals Top 10 Dual-Threat QBs

#1 Tyrod Taylor 5 stars__________VaTech
#2 Cameron Newton 5 stars______Florida/JC/Auburn
#3 Aaron Corp 4 stars___________USC/Richmond
#4 Stephen Garcia 4 stars_______South Carolina
#5 Willy Korn 4 stars____________Clemson/Marshall/N. Greenville
#6 Keith Nichol 4 stars__________Mich. St.
#7 Chris Forcier 4 stars__________UCLA
#8 Kodi Burns 4 stars___________Auburn#
#9 Josh Nesbitt 4 stars__________Ga. Tech
#10 Logan Gray 4 stars__________Georgia#

Rivals Top- 10 Pro-Style QBs

#1 Jimmy Clausen 5 stars________Notre Dame+
#2 Ryan Mallet 5 stars___________Michigan/Arkansas
#3 John Brantley 4 stars_________Florida
#4 Mike Paulus 4 stars__________UNC/Wm&Mary
#5 Peter Lalich 4 stars__________Virginia/Oregon St./*
#6 Pat Bostick 4 stars__________Pitt
#7 Jarrett Lee 4 stars___________LSU
#8 Robert Marve 4 stars_________Miami/Purdue
#9 Steven Threet 4 stars________Michigan/Az. St.
#10 BJ Coleman 4 Stars________Tennessee/UT-Chatt.

#Changed position to WR
+NFL draftee
*Peter Lalich was kicked off the team at Oregon State for “drunken boating”.

dawgster

November 10th, 2010
1:03 pm

59bulldawg…i understand where you are coming from, but Newton was not looked at by many schools, not just the dawgs, as being a typical pro-style QB…he is pefectly suited for a spread type offense…now could Coach Ricth have gone to the spread to utilize his talents, perhaps, but really no one knew how Newton was going to develop…the gators didn’t know how to use him either and thought Brantley was their guy…we can argue about some of the decisions that the staff has or has not made, but i don’ tthink they deserve to be criticized on this one…its real easy to look now and say wow, we sure missed on this one, but there have been hundreds of players that all schools have missed on and you just have to mover on…Had Coach Richt, Meyer, Saban, Miles or any other coach had a crystal ball and could forsee how his talent would develop, well we know what they would have done…but now with the problems that have started to emerge, can you imagine the heat that Coach Richt and staff would be taking if they had put the program at risk…and i believe that is what, unfortunately Au may have done, i hope not, thats not what College football should be about, but if the allegations are true, and more of them keep coming in, then Au has taken a big risk…

Brad

November 10th, 2010
1:05 pm

I have to admit that it is somewhat surprising that Richt and company had him pegged as a tight end. I’m a Gator fan and I remember the days where Richt served as Bobby Bowden’s offensive coordinator at FSU. I seem to remember a guy by the name of Charlie Ward who wouldn’t exactly fit the the mold of a ‘traditional pro-style quarterback’, yet achieved tremendous success by leading the hated ‘Noles to a National Championship and winning a Heisman Trophy… because he was mobile and could extend plays long enough for receivers to get open. Or he would just tuck the ball and go. Granted, Newton is much bigger than Ward was while at FSU, but it’s surprising to me that Richt and Rodney Garner didn’t consider recruiting him as a QB. Seems to be a gross oversight in terms of talent evaluation.

ALDawg

November 10th, 2010
1:06 pm

Ummmm, what,

“Richt is doing the best that he can.” Precisely. This man has a ceiling, and we’ve seen it. No one is disputing that he’s a nice guy, a good role model or that he’s been coaching for awhile. He sucks at beating tough competition. Can’t win the big game or put together a championship season. We hired him from FSU, a program that arguably had the greatest talent in the late 80s/90s. How many national championships did they win? The man is a consumate underachiever. “Well, he’s the best coach UGA’s ever had.” That’s an elite group. Keep being grateful for second and third place finishes in the SEC East. Maybe, if we’re lucky, all of the elite teams of the SEC will be placed on probation, and we can win by default. It doesn’t take someone within the game to see that we are immersed in a culture of mediocrity at UGA. But, hey, we beat the Fighting Adam’s Apples every year, so everything must be ok.

Delbert D.

November 10th, 2010
1:13 pm

Meyer signed Brantley, who was a pro-style QB for his spread offense. Why did he do that?

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
1:15 pm

ApopkaDawg, it is Garner, not “Gardner.”

AzDawg, I’m not sure I would call it “guts” when Tubberville changed OCs mid-season. Tubbs had a knack for always letting his coordinators fall on the sword while at Auburn.

Delbert D.

November 10th, 2010
1:35 pm

“UConn Football Player Arrested on Larceny Charge.” (AP). DE Marcus Campbell has been arrested.

I’ll add him to the list for the Heistman Tropy, joining front-runners Jeremiah Masoli and Cam Newton.

Freddie G

November 10th, 2010
1:41 pm

I have said all along that this coaching staff is not getting the job done and this latest revelation is proof of that. Did Richt and his staff see tape of Cam Newton, and how did he come to the decision to slot him as a TE when Florida and other schools saw him as a QB.
We have to now wonder if this shortsightedness is the reason that we lose so many recruiting battles. It is obvious that Newton may naver have lasted in Athens, but to recruit him as a TE is so way off all Richt backers should now come to a realization that the program is not progressing due to these blunders. I still believe that MCGarity should give Richt another year to make meaningful progress, and if not met then a change should be made.

Mudcatjoe

November 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

If the allegations are true, it seems like Cam Newton would have been a perfect fit at UGA. The entire team is made up of crooks and thugs. I know of a couple of high school players who were promised cars and money to come to UGA.

Freddie G

November 10th, 2010
1:49 pm

Did Richt sign Greene to Georgia while he was OC at FSU?
Donnan recruited Greene and redshirted him.

Hogwash

November 10th, 2010
1:49 pm

If Richt saw character flaws in Newton, that would be a first because he hasn’t seen character flaws in the rest of the team. Bill good article. This not just about C. Newton, it is about our recruiting in general. Every body wants to get mad when you criticize the UGA program. It speaks for itself. Look at the record and the off field problems. One day people will wake up but, in the mean time let’s get this program back on track. We have totally missed out on some great talent due to bad evaluation or the desire to travel the country to recruit the best players and until we do we will continue to lose to schools like Fla., Ala., and we seem to be a little gun shy on playing top caliber teams like Oregon. I am a true UGA fan but, I do realize when there is a flaw in the program. Recruiting needs to step up. If we were doing such a great job we would have a better supply of RBs, WRs, LBs and DL. Whether you people want to admit it or not, we need to step up our recruiting efforts and we definately need to revamp our offensive staff and the strength and conditioning program.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
1:56 pm

Pandering to the crowd a bit today Bill? There is really a debate as to if Mark Richt knows QB’s? wow

St. Bernard

November 10th, 2010
1:58 pm

Doesn’t seem like richt to give the heisman candidate bulletin board material. Is he messing with Cam’s head, or did this just slip?

dap01

November 10th, 2010
2:02 pm

Bill, Why take swips at UGA and CMR when the whole story is about a player whose past is getting shadier by the minute? Are you missing the story?

Ace

November 10th, 2010
2:03 pm

Why settle for a helmet when you can steal a laptop. UGA is again 2nd tier.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
2:06 pm

And I suppose just playing the with a completely empty backfield would have been better than using Samual (who was quite capable of playing the position) till his other guys were healthy? Just gone 4 wideout every play for 4 weeks.

Dirty Dawg

November 10th, 2010
2:12 pm

Hey Bill, this is the same thinking that had a kid – Mallett (or whatever his name is) – leave Michigan when the West VA guy headed there with his ’spread’ mentality (look how that’s turned out) and enrolled in Arkansas so he could maximize his talents…and will be the first or second QB taken in the NFL draft when he comes out. Fact is Newton hasn’t shown that he can actually be a pocket passer – virtually all his throws are option passes or passes on the run. My guess is that all we’ll hear next Summer is how hard Chan Gailey and the Bills are having to work to make a pro quarterback out of the guy.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
2:14 pm

Hogwash, it was a mutual decision b/t us and Oregon to disolve that home and home. No need for two difficult OOC games every year. Also, take a look at our recruiting rankings since CMR has gotten to Athens and also take a look at other programs who have offered our players. AGAIN, RECRUITING IS NOT THE PROBLEM. It’s getting really annoying see this posted over and over again. The REAL problem is Richt promotes underqualified assistants (e.g. Willie, Bobo, McClendon, et al). Our players are getting coached down, except those whose talent supercedes the bad coaching (Knowmo, AJG, and Stafford).

You are correct, our S & C needs help.

Coachdawg 2000

November 10th, 2010
2:16 pm

Bill King-
Your credibility diminishes with every post. Do you think that Spuurrier should have skewered because he didn’t recruit Tommy Frazier to run his fun-n-gun? No. Do you know why? Because Tommy Frazier was an outstnading option QB not a passer. That’s why you recruit to your strengths and your system .If UGA was a high school where your players(supposedly) live in your attendance zone then he would need to adjust to his players but not in college ball. You dance with who brung you so to speak.

sogadog

November 10th, 2010
2:32 pm

The fact UGA did not assess Newton to be a potential star quarterback is a problem. Bear Bryant succeeded because he was flexible in his approach. If the wishbone was working he ran the wishbone. If a pro style passing attack fit his talent base he ran that. The point is, Bobo and CMR seem too rigid in their offensive strategy. They run the same old system year end and year out and everyone in the SEC has solved it. They wont say hey, this Newton kid can run and pass, lets run the spread. The only reason their scheme has any success is because we recruit top talent. I would like to see some new talent and a new scheme on offense.

sogadog

November 10th, 2010
2:35 pm

I meant to say “new coaching talent” there is plenty of player talent on offense.

edumacated

November 10th, 2010
2:37 pm

UGA Insider,

The idea that Richt would stick to a certain offensive philosopy, despite losing, because of promises made to recruits is silly. Besides, he has been running the same offense since he got there anyway.

Freddie G

November 10th, 2010
2:41 pm

To all of you who are now stating that Richt may have passed on Cam because of his Character flaws, you need to take your heads out of your A$$*ol*s. The article clearly stated that Richt recruited Cam Newton, but as a TE. It stands to reason that if newton wanted to play as a TE he would have a Scholarship at Georgia. The point is, he was a mobile QB just like Shockley was a mobile QB; therefore why TE.
As stated previously the guy may never have lasted at Georgia, based on some of the information now coming to light, but the player evaluation must be questioned.