With his senior year of high school football just a week away, there are moments when Cameron Newton wonders just exactly where did the time go? It only seems like yesterday that he was getting his thumb jammed as a freshman when he was taking the snap under center from his brother Cecil Newton, Jr.
“I was a freshman that would say a prayer before every play,” said Cameron, a 6-6, 225-pound quarterback from Atlanta Westlake. “We’d break the huddle and I’d pray ‘Lord don’t let me forget the play’ or something like that.”
He still says a lot of prayers — faith is an important part of who he is — but the ones that probably do most of the praying these days are Westlake’s opponents. Cecil Jr. has moved on to Tennessee State where he’s a senior and the starting center. Cameron is now a senior at Westlake, big, strong and very athletic. He can beat you with his feet (he runs a 4.5 40) or his arm, which is plenty strong and very accurate.
As a junior Cameron, who is rated four stars by Scout.com, threw for more than 2,500 yards and he ran for more than 600. He accounted for 32 touchdowns, 23 with his arm and nine with his feet. Those numbers only figure to improve as he comes back for one more year at Westlake with the goal of bringing the school its first state championship.
“It’s really important to me to win the state championship this year,” he said. “We’re trying to build a real dynasty at Westlake but we have to win our first state championship to become a dynasty. We have to be the first team in our school history to make it past the third round of the state playoffs and we have to be the first one to win it all.
“Everybody is talking in this area — at the barber shops, the restaurants, wherever people get together — and they want to see us do it. Everybody talks about it that this could be the first team ever from Westlake to win the state championship.”
He’s so dedicated to winning the state championship that he’s tried to do all the little extra things this summer to be the kind of leader it takes. As the quarterback, he is the one player that everybody on his team looks to for leadership. If he leads vocally and by example, he knows that his teammates will follow.
“I think we’ve done a lot of bonding this summer,” he said. “Especially in the last few weeks before we started preseason practice, we’ve come together. We’ve been having meetings to learn the playbook, workouts, watching film … all the extra things. Now that practice has started, our seniors are all coming to practice early and leaving late. We’re trying to set the example of hard work and dedication for the young guys to follow.”
From a personal standpoint, he’s spending a lot of time working with his receivers. It’s not just about throwing the ball and running routes. He’s trying to help them learn to adjust their routes when a blitz is coming, teaching them to recognize hot routes when they see certain coverages and helping them learn the audibles.
“As the quarterback, my job is to do the best I can to help make the people around me better,” he said. “Everybody on the team is not going to go on to play at a Division I school or even to play college football, so you have to work with them and help them any way you can. As a senior and as a quarterback, you have to make those guys better if you can. You have to help everyone from the best to the least to do a better job.”
All the extra work that’s been going on this summer by all of his teammates looks like it’s paying off in practice sessions that are lively and spirited. He says that one day it’s the offense’s turn to light it up. The next day the defense has the upper hand.
“One day the offense clicks and the next day it’s the defense,” he said. “We’re determined to make it tough on each other so we’ll get better. I think we’ve done a good job of that.”
Cameron Newton is one of the nation’s most highly recruited quarterbacks but he is determined that the recruiting process isn’t going to interfere with Westlake’s run at a state championship. He’s narrowed his choices to Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi State and the plan is to announce his commitment on CSS TV with Scout.com’s Scott Kennedy on September 7.
When he makes his decision it will be a happy day because he’ll know where he’s going to school next year but it will also be sad because he really likes the coaches at all three of his favorite schools.
“I think those are all good schools and I wish I didn’t have to decide on just one,” he said. “But, I can only pick one school and I have to make a choice which one is best for me in the long run. I’ll put a lot more thought and prayer but when I decide I know I’ll pick the right one.”
With the recruiting decision out of the way, he will be able to concentrate on his two chief goals — helping Westlake win that state title and graduating from high school early so he can start college in January.
“I want to get that extra spring practice in so I’m graduating early,” he said. “As a quarterback, you have to give yourself every possible advantage and getting in school early and having an extra spring to learn the offense is so important. It’s going to be a very exciting time in my life.”