Heisman Trophy Trust, Kelly Kline) ** NO SALES **, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy — as if there was any doubt.
Whether he gets to keep it is still to be determined.
Auburn's hulking quarterback brushed off an NCAA investigation of his recruitment as he did so many tacklers this season and captured college football's biggest individual award Saturday night in a landslide vote.
The third player from Auburn to win the Heisman, Newton received 729 first-place votes and outpointed runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford by 1,184 points.
"Honestly, it's a dream come true for me, something every child has a dream (about) that plays the sport of football, and I'm living testimony that anything is possible," Newton said.
Oregon running back LaMichael James was third, followed by Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, the other finalist.
Newton didn't look a bit surprised when his name was announced inside the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. A wide smile spread across his face and he dropped his head.
After exchanging hugs and handshakes with the other finalists, he and his mother, Jackie, shared a long embrace. His dad was not there.
When he reached the podium, he had to steady himself.
"Oh my God," he whispered as he reached into his inside jacket packet to pull out his speech.
On the field and off, Newton has been the story of the college football season. He's carried the top-ranked Tigers to the BCS national championship game against No. 2 Oregon, running and passing over opponents who looked helpless trying to stop him. But his story is stained: Recently, the NCAA determined his father tried to peddle him to Mississippi State for cash.
Not even that ruling stopped Newton. The NCAA cleared him to play before the Southeastern Conference title game because it found no evidence that he or Auburn knew about Cecil Newton's pay-for-play scheme. It also suggested that it was still investigating, as were the FBI and the Mississippi secretary of state's office. Cam Newton has denied any wrongdoing.
Still, it invites speculation that the newest Heisman winner could perhaps be heading down the same path as Reggie Bush, who returned his trophy three months ago after the NCAA ruled that he and his family received cash and gifts while he was at Southern California.
Asked about the possibility during his news conference, Newton said: "Two letters for you my friend — No."
To be eligible for the Heisman, a player must be in good standing with the NCAA. And for most of November, that was unclear following claims by a Mississippi State booster who said Newton's father tried to get the Bulldogs to pay $180,000 for his son to play for them.
The NCAA didn't punish Cam Newton but did say Cecil Newton's access to Auburn athletics would have to be limited.
Cecil Newton did not attend the Heisman ceremony. In a statement released by his lawyer earlier in the week, he said his presence could "rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
All the uncertainty didn't keep voters from making Newton an overwhelming choice — he received the sixth most first-place votes and the third highest percentage of first-place votes. Though 105 voters among the 886 who returned ballots chose not to list him among their three selections.
"Obviously, like most people, I have my suspicions, but I don't think it's my position to pretend to know what is happening with the NCAA investigation," said voter Stewart Mandel of SI.com.
It was impossible to argue against his performance.
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