Star-Telegram, Richard W. Rodriguez, Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas — Cam Newton plans to fully participate in the NFL combine that begins later this week, saying he wants "to be transparent" through the whole draft process.
Newton intends to work out for NFL teams in Indianapolis, and said he is ready to answer any questions they may have for the quarterback who won the BCS national championship and Heisman Trophy in his only season at Auburn, where he played in a spread offense instead of taking snaps under center.
"I don't have nothing to hide, and I'm a competitor," Newton said Monday night before accepting the Davey O'Brien Award that recognizes the nation's top quarterback. "I'm going to go out here and do what I've been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right now."
Newton has been working with a quarterback coach in San Diego and getting mentoring from Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. There was a workout for the media earlier this month that he said hopes changed some perceptions "in a positive way."
Projected by many to be among the top 10 picks in April's NFL draft, Newton knows how important the interview process will be at the combine.
"It's just as important, if not (more) important than the play on the field," Newton said. "You can't overlook that by no means. If you don't sell yourself to an organization, I think you're going to be skipped in that process and I don't want to be skipped."
The NCAA has ruled that Newton's father tried to get Mississippi State to pay for him to play there. There was no evidence Newton knew what his father did or that Auburn was involved, so he was allowed to keep playing. But the case is not closed.
"That's nothing I'm worried about," Newton said. "I understand that everybody's entitled to their own opinion, and I just feel like if I have an opportunity to speak with a person or let a person evaluate me as a person, not something that has been stereotyped, I think their perception about me will change, and I'm willing to take that risk."
When Newton arrived for a news conference before the ceremony, he first warmly greeted the high school senior girl who was being presented the O'Brien scholarship award. He then shook hands with Keith Jackson and Bob Griese, who were also being recognized Monday night.
"The guys have gotten bigger since I've played. My center with the Dolphins was 6-foot-4, 250 pounds," Griese said with a smile looking up at 6-6, 250-pound Newton. "You ever play center?"
The namesake of the O'Brien award, the former TCU quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 1938 when the Frogs won their only AP national title, was 5-7 and weighed about 150 pounds.
When asked what NFL quarterback he would be like in the NFL, Newton said no one in particular but a part of many of them. He mentioned Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
"Cam Newton is Cam Newton. I don't want to be symboled as he's like this type of person or he's like that type of person," he said. "I'm trying to take something from every single person's game that makes them an elite quarterback. ... That's what sets me apart from somebody else, that's what I train for on a daily basis to be different, to be in a category by myself."
In his only season at Auburn, Newton completed 185 of 280 passes (66 percent) for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. He also ran for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns.
"I think I'm in control of my destiny right now, I'm lucky to be in this type of driver's seat," Newton said. "I'm just focusing on what I have to do, in the classroom, in the interviews, and at the end, my performance on the field."
Auburn fans have long celebrated wins at Toomer's Corner, and one of their biggest celebrations ever came last month after Newton and the Tigers won the BCS national championship over Oregon. The Tigers won all 14 games Newton started.
Recently, an Alabama fan was charged with first-degree criminal mischief for allegedly using a tree-destroying herbicide to poison the oak trees at Toomer's Corner after Auburn beat the Crimson Tide in November.
"Just hearing that is devastating for me. I didn't believe it, and my heart is going out to Toomer's Corner and the Toomer's trees," Newton said. "My heart goes out to everybody in Auburn."
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