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

Gary

November 10th, 2010
2:43 pm

If Auburn was like Georgia and lost the games that were close we would not have this conversation. They would have 3 or 4 losses and people would be questioning why they have him as a quarterback. (Miss State, Clemson, Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU all were very close except Ark who lost their starting QB) The breaks went Auburns way and they are undefeated. Georgia Squeeked by last year. Don’t think we have it in us this year to win. Auburn Plays Florida in the SEC then Auburn gets the death penalty after the NC game.

ALDawg

November 10th, 2010
2:44 pm

Couldn’t agree more with sogadawg. Everybody knows when UGA gets inside the 5, here comes the power I, and that’s not the only scenario. We have basically been running the same playbook since Richt’s arrival. That’s a lot of film to look at. At this point, it really doesn’t matter if we execute because the opposing defense knows what is coming. Tired rhetoric. Tired schemes. Failing program.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
2:50 pm

Sogadawg is dead on. Lane Kiffin said last year that we were the easiest team to prepare for; I wonder why.

59bulldawg

November 10th, 2010
2:53 pm

Dawgster . . . my criticism is not that we didn’t sign Newton. I’m glad we didn’t. My criticism is that we pegged him as a tight end at the college level. And then on top of that you throw in the wasted year for Knowshon and the experiment at running back for Richard Samuel . . . and then all the talent that we supposedly got in recent top ten recruiting classes . . . one can’t help but wonder if we’re missing on our evaluation of talent or as Spurrier says something happens to it once it gets to Athens. Personally I think it’s three-fold. We don’t do an exceptional job of evaluation before we recruit them. We don’t develop it properly when we get it to Athens. And we don’t always start the best player on game day. Sure all programs miss on the evaluation of some talent. We just seem to do it on a more consistent basis.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
3:00 pm

Let’s not read into this “UGA wanted Newton at TE” too much. Recruiting is my pastime, and I remember his recruitment very well. UGA never pursued Cam too hard b/c Cam (and his dad) saw Stafford starting as a true freshmen and did not want Cam to be another DJ Shockley. If Cam wanted to be at UGA, I’m sure we (UGA) would have done more evaulation on him, and thus realized that the kid was pretty good. And for the record, Cam was not as highly regarded in High School until he showed out at an All-Star game in January, then he became a “5 Star/ can’t miss guy.” But by then he was all Gator.

Ed (The Original)

November 10th, 2010
3:01 pm

Sounds like Cam might a screw loose, so it’s a good thing UGA avoided him. This controversy will probably not end well for Auburn.

However, what is says about Richt and staff’s ability to evaluate talent is disturbing. Apparently only Georgia among SEC schools failed to see Newton’s potential as a quarterback. How many current players at UGA are playing out of position?

icallbs

November 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

20/10 hindsight is awesome, isn’t it. This is four years AFTER the guy was being recruited. If I’m not mistaken, Thomas Davis was given a scholly on a last minute after thought just because one was available. Caleb King was going to be Hershcel and Reggie Bush rolled into one. This takes second guessing to a moronic extreme, and that’s saying something.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
3:16 pm

Icallbs, you’re thinking of Tim Jennings. We offered Thomas Davis after we saw him play a basketball game. But yeah, you’re right, recruiting is not an exact science.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
3:28 pm

ALdawg I really am not sure what the exact percentages, but I would be willing to bet that inside the 5 we run some kind of toss sweep, or pass to the (FB, TE) or a crossing pattern right behind the LB, or that lob to the WR as much as if not more times , than we run a power I up the gut.

I wish we did that more often actually, or could.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
3:35 pm

AltamahaDawg, my favorite is when we have an incomplete pass on 1st down, run it up the middle for 2 yards, to set up that awesome 3rd and long play. How many 3rd and 8s have we had this year?

75-76-DAWG

November 10th, 2010
3:38 pm

All of Newton’s problems in college are money related and I think his class is eligible to go pro this year. If I am right it will be one year and out for Newton. Getting a national championship that they were cheated out of in 2004 could end up costing them a lot. I hope for their sake and the integrity of the SEC that nothing bad happens.
I am very glad that CMR did not agree to change his entire offense around Newton just to get him to come to UGA. That’s probably the reason UGA was recruiting him as a receiver and not a QB. This guy has been bad news for every school he has attended, I am so glad we don’t have to deal with his crap.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
3:40 pm

sogadog, I could NOT disagree more. you don’t flip flop what you do, what you have just spend months and years on, because there come along a kid every now and then that like 20 other recruits at the time “might” turn into something. You just go get him and wreck what the other 30 members of the squad have been training for. Bear Bryant didn’t have a fraction of the recruiting tools available to him back then as these guys have. There are WAY too many recruits out there now to not pick and choose exactly who you want. Plus player basically went home for the summer and showed up a few weeks before the season, Obviously he would have to adjust to who showed up with the biggest muscles. He hadn’t spend basically the entire years fine tuning highly sophisticated offenses.

So pass on Murray, who is prototypical UGA QB, and a Star in the making, and just sign Newton, throw something together to suit him, because a few year later, you never know when somebody might want to fabricate a big fuss about it if you don’t.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
3:45 pm

Spivedog I would imagine somewhere in the neighborhood the exact same amount of times that EVERY team in the country runs on second down after an incomplete pass on first, including those on Sunday, because it is the correct call.

If you are asking me if i enjoy that they had an incomplete pass, no. I also don’t think the play call come in from the bench that say, be sure and only pick up 2 yrs on this boys. We probably need to work on getting more yards from our running plays.

robodawg

November 10th, 2010
3:46 pm

Richt may have been intentionally understating their evaluation of Newton. He didn’t sign him, after all. Plus, our coaching staff and everything we do is centered around a pro style offense with a drop back passer. But yeah, you would like to see some flexibility in the talent you’ll sign at QB.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

As I recall , Kiffin was talking about , where our defenders lined up, and thats why they could run that play over and over. He wasnt talking about the offensive plays. Those fizzled with no help from Tn whatsoever.

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
3:53 pm

AltamahaDawg, it is the correct call if you have the personnel to actually pick up yardage running the ball on 2nd down. It is not, however, the right call when you don’t have maulers on the Oline and your backs are mediocre at best.

Bobo’s problem is that he cannot/will not adapt his offense, unless, of course we are trailing and it is the only option. Hence, the reason we have not led at any point in any of our SEC losses. That is a very telling stat.

One more reason

November 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

Just one more reason why the incompetent Richt and his cohorts have to be sacked and replaced.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
4:05 pm

What does it tell?

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
4:18 pm

Pretty useless to debate it anyway since in the UF game that (incomplete pass, short trun on second) only happened on one series and they converted a 30 yr pass on 3rd down. Not one time did that set of circumstances occur in the KY game. I didn’t really look at the Vandy or TN game, but we sort of blew them out so would it really matters.

If that is the example of Bobo’s unwillingness to “adjust”, I would say it’s not a real good one.

SOUTHGADAWG88

November 10th, 2010
4:23 pm

Bobo has done a good job this year

Spivedog

November 10th, 2010
4:31 pm

Altamaha, did you watch the first 5 games of the year this year? Be honest. Maybe you were out of the country? Maybe you have been watching some other team play this year? I dunno, but you are wrong either way. I don’t have the game films in front of me, but I can usually predict how a series on offense will go, and I know if I can do it, then opposing DCs can do it. Hell, even Richt called out Bobo when he said after the Colorado game that “sometimes we were just running the ball to run it.”

11 Arrests 5 Wins

November 10th, 2010
4:46 pm

True…he’s never been arrested, wouldn’t fit in at GA.

schmeckdawg

November 10th, 2010
5:09 pm

Mike @ 10:53

How could you have seen Newton and Eric Berry single handedly destroy your Banneker team especially since Berry went to Creekside? Come on man!!

DawgTired

November 10th, 2010
5:29 pm

Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

I’ve read that so many times on these blogs. Think about it Dawg fans…the same thing could be said about your program. AD got fired for DUI…13 arrests…DC with the choke sign…Some could say that your program is out of control…Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

My question is this…why do you care so much about Newton? Is it because you are desperately hoping that the NCAA will step in and sit him for the UGA game? Is it because somehow you are glad that other schools are getting bad publicity for a change?

Take pride in your school. UGA is a storied program rich in football tradition. Don’t trash all of that by being hypocritical and looking scared to play at team at it’s best. You guys are better than that.

Isiah

November 10th, 2010
5:35 pm

Really? Dare anyone on this blog be surprised. If you know anything about the history of football, you know that hundreds of amazing Black athletes have not gotten the opportunity to play the QB position at UGA and other schools just like it. This silly discussion of driving and laptops is ludicrous!!

Coachdawg 2000

November 10th, 2010
5:37 pm

I hope two things happen#1 I hope we beat Allbarn with (S)Cam.#2 I hope Cam is pictured on “vacation” with Bishop Eddie Long!

Coachdawg 2000

November 10th, 2010
5:39 pm

Isiah-
Really?Aren’t you really Terrence Moore? I thought you pumping toilets at Fanhouse.

Peggy Ledbetter

November 10th, 2010
5:40 pm

When Cam Newton was at Florida, he was a third string quarterback, whose ability was not appreciated enough to ignore his cheating and laptop fiasco. Mark Richt probably had a good eye back then, and saw what fit Newton would make at UGA. . I guess Cam Newton really matured in size and ability at his Junior college. BIG change. I guess some people are just late bloomers.

Coachdawg 2000

November 10th, 2010
5:40 pm

I forgot i really have 3 hopes. #3 I hope bill king goes away!

Delbert D.

November 10th, 2010
5:48 pm

Where there is smoke, it is shady. When it blocks out the sun, that is.

Sven Ottke

November 10th, 2010
5:55 pm

“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.”

Are you kidding? He would have been a perfect fit at UGa. What a joke.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
6:03 pm

So what you are saying is that he was too predictable in the beginning of the year, which was a factor in losing some games, but since we rarely see that set of downs/call anymore and have played much better in the past 5 games, that just proves he is unwilling to adjust?

Putting aside the discusion about what factors and options might be difference now, lets just say the big difference is him just being more (whatever), isnt that what you want him to do?

ColoradoDawg

November 10th, 2010
6:41 pm

If my memory is right, wasnt Phillip Rivers recruited as a tight end and the only college that gave him a at QB was NC State? Not even the great Bowden saw him as a QB.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
6:41 pm

Don”t you imagine that the Alabama fans that have followed that team and those player could tell you exactly what they are going to do 75% of the time? Every knowledgable fan base can predict whats coming from thier team. PLus with film on the opponents, every coach know what the other guys tendencies are. Nobody is fooling other teams as a recipe for success in the long run. The better team, just do what they do well. Predictable is not the problem. If Bobo is so predictable and you know what’s coming, but they just set a school record for most games over 30 points in a row, is predictable a problem? The real problem is the plays haven’t worked as much as they need to, which BTW I was saying 3 years ago, when everybody else was hung up blaming Willie for every single outcome of the game.

T-DAWG

November 10th, 2010
7:23 pm

DAWGS spend too much time on the offensive skill players and forget about the defense. There are a lot of 3/4 stars on the defense and a few 5 stars but it has been since Pollock since we have seen anything on that defense which is big reason we are sliding downward. Again, LSU, Alabam, and Flordia play top notch defense which is the reason they are at the top of every year. If I see another WR running 5 yards open and DB’s looking at each other like they lost a quarter, I am going to coach the DB’s myself.

just another brick in the wall

November 10th, 2010
8:03 pm

yep….cam newton wouldn’t fit into our superior offensive system that has a .500 record against ranked teams AND is below the national average for redzone efficiency.

And our fine QBs that are all pro prospects are doing quite well in the NFL these days…..Greene, Shockley and the Tin man are all just in line to be starters in the pro bowl.

It’s gonna take a while for these rose colored glasses to get knocked off…….

1eyedJack

November 10th, 2010
8:31 pm

T-DAWG, Georgia is currently 3rd in defense in the SEC.

TOTAL DEFENSE G Rush Pass Plays Yards Avg/P TD Avg/G
1. LSU 9 1127 1419 560 2546 4.5 18 282.9
2. Florida 9 1091 1542 570 2633 4.6 19 292.6
3. Georgia 10 1064 1991 603 3055 5.1 25 305.5
4. Alabama 9 1132 1632 563 2764 4.9 12 307.1
5. Arkansas 9 1410 1532 571 2942 5.2 22 326.9
6. Miss. State 9 1037 1994 616 3031 4.9 17 336.8
7. Kentucky 10 1763 1654 610 3417 5.6 36 341.7
8. Auburn 10 1146 2413 704 3559 5.1 30 355.9
9. S. Carolina 9 941 2382 601 3323 5.5 22 369.2
10. Ole Miss 9 1294 2087 573 3381 5.9 31 375.7
11. Tennessee 9 1407 2158 622 3565 5.7 29 396.1
12. Vanderbilt 9 1621 2171 683 3792 5.6 31 421.3

1eyedJack

November 10th, 2010
8:35 pm

We are also fourth in Scoring at 34 points a game. It seems we are less than the sum of our parts.

Douglasville Dawg

November 10th, 2010
8:44 pm

This has to be one of the worst articles I’ve ever read! Bill, if you wanted to question Richt’s passive approach, lack of discipline, strength and conditioning, offensive line or the secondary, I would be all ears. But you are questioning the recruiting of UGA which has consistently been ranked in the top 10 for many years! There are plenty of hits and misses out there and I believe that UGA has done a very solid job. I bet there would be many coaches out there that would love to have UGA’s recruits year in and year out. Did you know that Kelin Johnson came in as a wide receiver and was moved to safety and had a stellar career. Bruce Thornton came in as a running back and was moved to corner back and was taken in the NFL draft. Thomas Davis came in as a linebacker and was moved to safety. He ended up drafted pretty highly. Not all players pan out at the positions they initially come in to play and that’s everywhere! One last example…Jasper Sanks was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school and UGA signed him. How did that one turn out Bill? What a MORON! Well…at least I know that if I were to lose my job, I could always go to the AJC and write opinion related articles. It doesn’t seem very difficult to be qualified!

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
10:12 pm

And Pollack was recruited as a 2 star Fullback wasnt he?

Have you ever had a real job?

November 10th, 2010
10:17 pm

Bill,

Just for your information…real people have to work real jobs and perform to get paid…writing stupid articles constantly criticizing Mark Ritch and the UGA program may get a few comments from fools like me, but you really should get a life. You are not and will never be welcome among the UGA DAWG faithful again. Don’t wear that dawg shirt or hat again…you are not worthy.

pete

November 10th, 2010
10:21 pm

Bill,

Are you a UGA fan? Because you write like you hate our team / coaches. Please support the players and coaches. Your negativity isn’t going to change anything, so quit.

tide roll

November 10th, 2010
10:24 pm

Bill : Great article. You’re exactly right. The thing most bothersome is Uga had a second shot at him out of Blinn, AS A QB, and still didn’t sign him. It follows a “curious” pattern through the years of Uga failing to sign Charlie Ward, Sean Jones, and Homer Jordan. All in state kids who led their respective schools to national titles (Ga. Tech, FSU, and Clemson.) It’s got to be some sort of record and Georgia fans should be embarassed. This is more than coincidence,and anyone with a brain can see it. And Uga, incredibly, is making the same mistake with C. J. Uzomah, the 6′ 5″ 240 lb. stud at N. Gwinnett, who has committed to Auburn as well. Gus Malzaln needs to send Richt and Bobo a Christmas card!

JPaul63

November 10th, 2010
10:30 pm

the heck with Cam’s issues! Dawgs win without the distraction!

PHIL

November 10th, 2010
10:57 pm

59Bulldawg there may be people who have never coached that are qualified to criticize someone who has been in collegiate athletics for 30 years, but after reading your posts for the last several months, sir, I assure you that you are not one of them. You CANNOT change your offensive system in order to accommodate the skills of one player. That’s the first stupid premise you make. Second if this guy was so good, why was he third string behind this Brantley guy that is so not suited to the UF offense? He is good THIS year in THIS scheme. Like Altahmaha Dawg said there are plenty of guys and we have had plenty of talent at QB> The Richard Samuel EXPERIMENT??? The “experiment” will be at LB. Scouting services ranked Samuel as the #4 RB prospect in the nation his senior year. I know because he is somewhat local and the papers were full of him. If he could carry the ball without fumbling, he’d STILL be carrying it.

Knowshon’s freshman year saw him behind 3 running backs that he WAS NOT better than as a freshman.
Other idiotic postings by various obvious asylum inmates include things like Richt “recruited” him as a tight end. That’s not what he said AT ALL. He said we “looked at him as a tight end prospect.” Most say we never seriously recruited him AT ALL. WHY? You know how traffic violations in Athens are viewed in the same light as drug dealing ar Tech and terroristic threats at UF. The AJC would have been tearing their garments in angst at the scooter violations this kid would have racked up. There are reasons we don’t try to get some kids and the coach isn’t going to publicly throw any of them under the bus by saying they had poor academics or character issues.

Spivedawg ,while you may have been in the same country watching the games, it would appear to me you may have watched them while under the influence of mind altering substances or emotions. Since indeed you admit you don’t have the game films, I suggest you go get them and write the offensive sequences down before spouting off. The first thing that showed me how irrational you are is that you were arguing with AltahmahaDawg. He has too many facts for you to dispute with meer emotions. Arguing with him is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. After while you learn the pig likes it and you are just muddy and look stupid. That’s what’s happening here in your argument with him. But forget al lthe points and FACTS he has, tell me if Bobo is so bad, just exactly how many points do you think is enough to score to win a game? Try to wrap your pea brain around this. We scored 31 points on what is the second best defense statistically in the nations toughest conference, second by less than 30 feet a game I might ad, after having 4 turn overs. Just how powerful do you think an offense needs to be to win? Or did Bobo throw those interceptions and fumble that ball and I was just out of the country? Without just ONE of those turn overs we win that game and all you morons think everything is sunshine and lollipops. We just set a school record for most games in a row over 30 and will ad to that the next two games. How many points do you think we need for Bobo to be considered good? Tell me how many. Give me a number.

Bill I hope AJC gave you a bonus for writing such a STUPID article. If you ever decide to go on vaca, just let 59bulldawg fill in for ya. You and he are on about the same level.

AceDawg

November 10th, 2010
11:06 pm

It goes both ways – some coaches find players that fit their system, and some players adjust systems to fit their players. (I’m not talking about new coaches that have more challenges in this regard). BUT, good point regarding Samuel and Moreno. The Dawgs don’t make 100% sound decisions on recruiting, but I’d say the coaching itself is the bigger issue. There are definitely ranked teams whose head coaches would love to switch out every one of their players for the UGA players.

Jake

November 10th, 2010
11:17 pm

Speaking of Moreno, I just came back from 10 days in the Denver area and on sports talk radio there he’s being referred to as “No-Show Moreno.”

Matt(GHS 1999(

November 10th, 2010
11:24 pm

Bill-Had Newton stayed at UF, he would of been the 3rd string QB and tried out at TE. A UF beat writer actually said this. He sucked at QB at UF. So if UF was gonna move him to TE, what does that say about UGA? I know you guys don’t like dealing in facts but c’mon!

uuugh...

November 11th, 2010
12:02 am

Square Peg/Roung Hole = DJ Shockley, Logan Gray, Aaron Murray.

Richt wants David Greene, Matt Stafford, Mettenberger…Brad Johnson. Sure Chuck Ward won the Heisman…he did so despite Richt’s system.
Richt keeps trying to plug these kids with specific skill sets into his offense…instead of tailoring his offense to the kid’s specific skill set. They do just that at Florida. And it works. 2 National Championships. We don’t do that at UGA and apparently it doesn’t work.

Murray is successful because he breaks the expected play. A Play that opposing DC’s have 15 years of tape on!

We missed on Cam…maybe because we wanted him at TE. We missed on Cam probably because we couldn’t or wouldn’t pay what Florida paid the first time around. This second payment is only in the press because Florida didn’t get any return on their investment.

Bob

November 11th, 2010
12:04 am

Newman, You don’t know what you are talking about. If CMR was not the UGA coach we would never have landed him.