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Who can become the next Cameron Jerrell Newton?

Let's be perfectly clear about something right now: there will not be another Cameron Jerrell Newton for the foreseeable future. Mr. 6’6”, 250 isn’t walking through that door, college football fans. However, there was something about Cam’s season last year that was simply captivating (outside of the scandal, and being called Scam Newton which will always be funny to me.) The breath-taking runs, the long bombs, or the ballsy plays in the clutch. Cam made us pay attention to him in a way that is reminiscent of the days of Frazier, Crouch, Vick, Young, and Tebow.

Will there be someone of that ilk in 2011? Someone that breaks into the scene with such a gangsta lean that we have no choice but to pay attention? I got a couple of folks in mind...a passer, a runner, a leader, a prototype, and a phenom.

The Passer: Tajh Boyd, Clemson – There’s nothing like being the new kid on the block, no respect and everything to prove. To be honest, it took me three weeks to figure out how to properly spell the Clemson quarterback’s name correctly. In Tajh we trust, is what the folks in Clemson say these days. To be honest, Clemson reminds me a ton of Auburn from the standpoint of being a program with a ton of talent and yet never being able to win games worth a damn. With Clemson sitting at 4-0, this is damn near unprecedented. They’re winning close games, beating big-name opponents, and Tajh is leading the way by chucking the pill all around the field in an offense that looks a lot like Gus Malzohn’s offense that Cam ran to perfection a year ago. Dabo Swinney's got a quarterback he can finally believe in, and now it's time to see if Tajh can take Clemson from pretender to contender.

'10 Cam Newton in four games: 680 pass yds, 9 TD/3 INT, 485 rush yds, 5 TD
'11 Tajh Boyd in four games: 1255 pass yds 13 TD/2 INT 61 rush yds 2 TD

The Runner: Denard Robinson, Michigan – A glorified scat back, are the words that JAG will use when speaking about the exploits of the fleet-of-foot quarterback from Michigan. Shoelace’s demise as a quarterback seemed to be looming with a new offensive coordinator who wanted to run a west-coast offense. The skeptics say that Shoelace was meant to run, not throw. While it would be absurd to say that Shoelace is the second coming of Tom Brady in Ann Arbor (who, to be fair, was a slightly above-average QB for the Wolverines), Denard has found a way to make a big play by ground and by air in 2011. Ask SDSU about the two bills and three TD’s he ran for last week. Ask Notre Dame about the 338 yards and four TDs he chucked in the first night game in the Big House. Shoelace is seventh nationally in rushing yards…among ALL players, not QBs. If Shoelace keeps winning, he might be able to stand next to Mr. Howard in December.

'10 Cam Newton in four games: 680 pass yds, 9 TD/3 INT, 485 rush yds, 5 TD
'11 Denard Robinson in four games: 624 pass yds 6 TD/6 INT, 535 rush yds, 5 TD

The Leader: Russell Wilson, Wisconsin – Quick, name the best quarterback in Wisconsin Badgers history……..right. You can’t even think of one worth a damn (for what it's worth, it's probably Brooks Bollinger.) With Russell Wilson stepping onto the campus in Madison, a sense of legitimacy has been placed upon the shoulders of the Badgers for the first time in my memory. Always known for a dominant and overpowering run game, the aerial attack was always lacking. Elite defenses can beat a one-dimensional offense, and while Wilson will be working on that graduate degree he’ll also be working on taking Wisconsin to a national title in a similar fashion that Cam did. Yes, the man is 5’11”, but having someone under center whose been in the wars before is invaluable. Wisconsin has been scary this season, beating teams by almost 40 points/game. Wisconsin is the dark horse to win the title because of #16.

'10 Cam Newton in four games: 680 pass yds, 9 TD/3 INT, 485 rush yds, 5 TD
'11 Russell Wilson in four games: 1136 pass yds 11 TD/1 INT, 108 rush yds 1 TD

The Prototype: Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech – We’re going to mess around and look up and see that Virginia Tech is 10-0 and start asking why we haven’t been giving the Hokies their proper respect. Yes, they’ve played a cream puff schedule early on, but when it comes to the ACC, no one’s owned it like Frank Beamer and VTech. Taking the snaps in Blacksburg means that you’re still living in the shadows of the big homie Michael Vick and, for Logan Thomas, he’s next in line to prove that he can perform up to such a standard. He’s the prototype for a reason, he’s built to damn near the exact specifications of Cam Newton. 6’6”. 250 pounds. A long-strider with speed and a strong arm. However, his best asset must be his discretion with the ball. Tech’s run game and defense is good enough to get them to a BCS game again, and with a few big plays from the QB we could be ready for the Logan Thomas era in Blacksburg.

'10 Cam Newton in 4 games: 680 pass yds, 9 TD/3 INT, 485 rush yds, 5 TD
'11 Logan Thomas in 4 games: 761 pass yds 4 TD/4 INT, 115 rush yds 1 TD

The Phenom: Robert Griffin III, Baylor – The funny thing about Robert Griffin III, aka RG3, is that he’s been doing this since 2008. Can throw it a country mile, can outrun everyone on the field, and has the charisma of a cunning politician. In Big XII country, the discussion behind closed doors is that we’re all thankful that RG3 ended up at Baylor. If he ended up going to Oklahoma or Texas, or any team that seemed to be worth a damn who could put together a competitive squad on both sides of the ball and could be coached into some success. Then a funny thing happened….Baylor decided to build up the talent in Waco and get a coach in Art Briles who could keep the Bears competitive. I’m not sure Baylor can make a deep run, but I’m already terrified for my Sooners to play the Bears, and so is every other team in the Big XII (9). RG3’s that real, and his performance versus TCU was something I’d never seen before. You don’t do that to TCU. RG3 did, and he’ll be doing it all season.

'10 Cam Newton in four games: 680 pass yds, 9 TD/3 INT, 485 rush yds, 5 TD
'11 Robert Griffin III in three games: 962 pass yds 13 TD/0 INT, 164 rush yds 1 TD

Honorable Mentions: Geno Smith, West Virginia; Taylor Martinez, Nebraska; Keith Price, Washington




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