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Phillip's blog: The real Cam Newton

As the NFL Combine continues, I’m still trying to figure out who this guy is that some people write and talk about.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

They wonder about his work ethic. They wonder about his dedication. They wonder about his leadership. And they are talking about Cam Newton? Really?

Look, I’m no scout. I don’t know anything about breaking down one quarterback’s game against another. If the scouts say Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is a better NFL prospect than Newton, I’m not qualified to argue with that.

But the notion that Newton is somehow an unreliable individual is puzzling.

In all my years of covering college football, I’ve not seen another quarterback establish more of a hold on his teammates in such a short time. You can’t fool your teammates and you don’t earn their respect just by making plays. You earn their respect with your work ethic, with unselfishness, with your willingness to be a team player. Newton treated everybody with respect. He had time for walk-ons just like he had time for the stars.

As it became clear that Newton was the best football player in the college game, he gave credit to others – to his offensive line, to his running backs, to his receivers, to his coaches.

Newton played under the most intense kind of pressure after November. As controversy swirled around him and his family, he not only stayed focused, he got better and led his team to a national championship. His teammates rallied around him. It can’t be easy to be in the position in which Newton finds himself. Every word he utters is dissected. There are those out there who want desperately to find something, anything, to validate their uninformed opinions that he’s a bad guy.

For one Auburn season, Newton is the best college football player I’ve ever seen. His physical talents are beyond question. As a person and a player, he made a lasting impression on his teammates and his coaches.

That’s what I know.

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