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Good Article about Cam in the Bham News


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George Whitfield Jr. says there's a lot to like about Cam Newton, from his playfulness to his willingness to learn, from his aptitude for football to his love for his family. 

But in the world of big-time sports, Whitfield finds something even more intriguing about the former Auburn quarterback. 

"No quarterback in the NFL has his physical attributes," he said. 

That's high praise from Whitfield, who runs a private quarterback school in San Diego, where his 6-foot-6, 250-pound prized pupil arrived last Monday and will be there at least another month as he prepares for the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft. 

With Newton is his father, Cecil Newton Sr., and his older brother, Cecil Jr., to lend support. 

"Team Newton," says Whitfield, director of the Whitfield Athletix

Few college players have received as much publicity and as much scrutiny in a single season as Newton did on the way to his Heisman Trophy, but Team Newton and Whitfield have devised a plan to keep the quarterback in the public's consciousness. Newton will be in front of the media again on Feb. 10 in San Diego for an unusual exhibition of his skills. NFL scouts can't attend, by rule, but Newton's performance will certainly be analyzed pubilcly. 

That will play into the marketing of Cam Newton, the quarterback with the Million Dollar Smile who could cash in with endorsements before ever taking a snap in professional football, says CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell. 

Rovell says Newton has already had a big marketing head start. 

"I do think Cam Newton is a one-of-a-kind in that he's probably the most commercialized college athlete ever," Rovell said. 

How so? "I'm talking about the 17 Under Armour logos he wore every Saturday."

Drop-back passer

Cam Newton reports to Whitfield each day with football and notebook in hand. One is as important as the other, says Whitfield, whose pupils have included Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. 

A typical day consists of Newton learning how to be a drop-back passer after spending his college career in the shotgun, mixed with film study and other classes. 

George Whitfield Jr. is Cam Newton's private coach

"The public really won't see it in his public exhibition, but the NFLcoaches will get to see how much he understands the game when they interview him," Whitfield said. "That will be the part I think people will really be blown away by -- just how well versed he is in the defense's coverages." 

On the field, Whitfield said, "we're doing some polishing and refinement of footwork and we're tinkering with his gun barrel a little bit on how he's shooting different throws out." 

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects Newton as the 10th overall pick. Whitfield says the NFL will be impressed with Newton leading up to the draft.

"He genuinely wants to get things right. ... He can watch, study, get it and apply it. He's got it down." 

Whitfield remarked on the togetherness of the Newton clan, which came under the microscope during the season when Cecil Newton Sr. was accused of seeking money from Mississippi State boosters for his son to play in Starkville. Later, Auburn limited Cecil's access to the program. 

"It's a very tight family. It's like watching three best friends paling around the city," Whitfield said. "I feel sorry for their poor dad. They get on him with jokes and headlocks. It's such a dynamic to see, knowing how much they've gone through. You always feel like you should say, 'Don't you know all of this is going on around you?' But they are happy as a group. They're here to support Cam and me. I call it Team Newton. They've really been great to work with." 

Cecil Newton Sr. was involved in an unintended headline when his son's media exhibition was first announced. 

"I hated that his dad's name got stuck to that (as Cecil's idea)," Whitfield said. "His dad bounced it off of me, but the genesis behind that (was Whitfield's). I think Cam is ready. It will be a unique experience. The whole essence of this media workout is to unveil his progress midway through. We're not even halfway through his process. 

"No one in this camp wants to sit and wait until Cam's Pro Day (at Auburn) to show how clean he is in his drops, how well he's adjusted, how well he's doing. We're committed to have a big test live and in public." 

The test will drill him on all aspects, Whitfield said. 

"I'm going to push him to show not only his aptitude for the drop-back game, but his conditioning, his arm conditioning, his power, his touch. I don't know a whole lot of other quarterbacks who would do this."

Marketing potential

Newton could be a marketing dream despite the shadow that followed him part of the season. 

"I don't think the checkered past plays into it," said Rovell, the CNBC sports business reporter. 

But one thing might: NBA rookies stand to sign bigger endorsement deals than their NFL counterparts simply because of shoe deals. 

"The NFL cleat business is not as big as basketball shoes, so you're not automatically entitled to an endorsement deal like the top NFL draft pick," Rovell said. 

"The other thing is the companies are more willing to wait and see how good you are. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these guys say, 'I'm going to be good, so I'm going to bypass your money now.' I'm surprised Tim Tebow didn't do that. His Nike contract is worth  about $300,000 a year." 

Rovell said Newton's endorsement deal could range between $500,000 and $600,000 a year, especially if Under Armour, the brand he played with at Auburn, and Nike, the king of athletic wear, get into a bidding war over the quarterback. 

Under Armour rode Auburn and Newton all season. Any tight TV shot of the quarterback filled the screen with the company's logos. 

"Does Under Armour need the continuity that Cam provided them? Or how much will Cam really help Under Armour?" Rovell said. "People have the false feeling that Cam would more likely go with Under Armour because he's used to the brand. History has shown that it doesn't matter who supports you before you turn pro." 

The key may be if Nike chairman of the board Phil Knight wants to get into a battle with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. 

"The 'X' factor is Phil Knight at Nike," Rovell said. "He doesn't make decisions at Nike on a day-to-day basis, but Phil Knight may want Cam Newton to make sure Under Armour doesn't get him. 

"He's going to be worth a whole lot more if Nike wants to get into a bidding war just to spite Under Armour." 

Nike's real growth is in the international market. Under Armour trails there, which may also play into Cam Newton's marketing deal. 

"Under Armour may be better off finding some cricket player we've never heard of," Rovell said. "In our world, we think Cam Newton is everything, but if they can sign a second-level European soccer entity for the money they spend on Cam Newton, it may help them get into Ireland or Great Britain." 

Whitfield sees Newton and sees potential. 

"When you see him on TV you think, 'Does he really smile that much?' He smiles all the time," Whitfield said. "He's playful. He may be messing with receivers or he may be getting on me about something. He's a funny guy. I like that because even when I'm challenging him, he has the temperament that won't allow him to get stuck with some kind of setback. I love that. I've had young guys before who have always been in front-running situations. (They say) 'If I'm doing well, I'm good; if I'm struggling, I'm packing it up.' Cam's disposition won't even allow him that kind of comedown."

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Well, it appears our man the Cam has not missed a beat since he rolled out of AUBURN to continue his climb to the NFL. I wish him well and hope that his QB coach's observations prove true.

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Good Luck to Cam. He's a hard worker, and an amazing talent. He could turn the NFL on it's ear if he stays healthy, and I hope he does. I'm not an NFL fan at all, but I will watch him play on Sundays.

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