Category: Auburn Tigers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton walks onto the Auburn football field before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
AP Photo/Butch Dill

Cam Newton is first Heisman Trophy winner to win NFL MVP since Barry Sanders

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On the eve of the Super Bowl, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League. He is the first Heisman Trophy winner to win the NFL’s MVP award since Detroit Lions running back and former Oklahoma State star Barry Sanders was named the best player in the NFL in 1997. Sanders shared the MVP honors that season with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, which means Newton is the first Heisman Trophy winner to be the outright winner of the NFL’s MVP award since 1985, when Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen won the award (Allen was a Heisman Trophy running back for USC in 1981.

Newton becomes the first quarterback to win the top honor at the college and NFL level and joins a short list by becoming the sixth player to receive both awards. Newton was a Heisman Trophy quarterback for Auburn during the 2010 season, in which he fueled a BCS Championship Run. Newton now can become the first player in football history to win the Heisman Trophy, a college national championship, NFL MVP and a Super Bowl. To do that, Newton will have to lead the Panthers past the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, who is perhaps one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but was passed over for a Heisman Trophy by Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 (Manning finished second in the voting that season).

It is somewhat amazing to think that grand slam of football has never been achieved once since the NFL MVP award was first awarded by the Associated Press in 1957, but it also goes to show that sometimes the best players in college and the NFL do not always achieve the top-level of championship success.

Players to win Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP

  • RB Paul Hornung
  • RB O.J. Simpson
  • RB Earl Campbell
  • RB Marcus Allen
  • RB Barry Sanders
  • QB Cam Newton

Illini grad transfer T.J. Neal to visit WVU, Auburn

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMPER 27: Linebacker T.J. Neal #52 of the Illinois Fighting Illini arches of running back Ameer Abdullah #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskersduring their game at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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T.J. Neal does not yet know where he will continue his collegiate career, but it appears the linebacker has significantly narrowed the field.

A little less than two weeks ago, Neal, after being told by the coaching staff that they were planning to move him from middle to strongside linebacker, decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program.  As he will be a graduate transfer upon earning his degree in May, Neal will be eligible to play at another FBS program in 2016.

Enter West Virginia and Auburn, two teams which have been in contact with Neal and vice versa.  According to al.com, Neal will visit Morgantown this coming Monday, then head to The Plains a week later.

Upon the announcement of an impending departure, Illini head coach Bill Cubit said the Pennsylvania native “was talking about playing closer to home.”  Even as a move to Auburn would be the exact opposite of that, Neal seems genuinely excited over the prospects.

“Being able to play down there in Alabama, it’s like a dream come true,” Neal told Brandon Marcello of al.com. “From my high school, I never thought I’d play at a big-time school like Auburn. To have a chance now, it’s exciting to play against some of the top players in the country.”

According to blueandgoldsports.com, Penn State and Pittsburgh are/were also in play. It’s unclear if he’s visited or plans to visit those schools in his home state, although it was originally thought that the Nittany Lions could be high on Neal’s to-do list.

Not only is Neal a native of McKeesport, Pa., but Tim Banks, the Illini’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons, left in December to become the Nittany Lions’ coordinator.  PSU has also seen a pair of linebackers, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten Jr., transfer out this month, meaning the opportunity for a starting job would certainly be on the table.

Regardless, Neal expects to make a decision shortly after the Feb. 15 visit to Auburn. He would then enroll in his new school of choice shortly after his graduation from Illinois.

Neal was a two-year starter for the Illini who finished second on the team in tackles (109) this past season.  He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for his play in 2015.

Channeling his inner Bear, top-rated player in state of Alabama rolls with Tide

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Associated Press
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Ben Davis‘ father is the all-time leading tackler in Alabama history.  After a bit of uncertainty and angst, the legacy is staying home.

At a much-anticipated announcement at his Gordo, Ala., high school, Ben Davis Jr. revealed that he will indeed be attending the University of Alabama.  And Davis made his revelation with a nod to the Tide’s past, donning a houndstooth hat to confirm his commitment to the legendary Bear Bryant’s former program.

In addition to Bama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame were in the linebacker’s final five.

Not only was Davis the top-rated player in the state of Alabama, he is the No. 5 player at any position in this year’s class according to Rivals.com.

Vols flip four-star corner from ‘Canes, add four-star Ga. safety

Butch Jones
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You know how I know it’s officially National Signing Day?  We have the first use of the word “flip” in a headline.

Unfortunately for Mark Richt, he’s on the wrong end of the flip’s landing as long-time Miami commitment Tyler Byrd has decided to attend Tennessee and play his college football for Butch Jones‘ Volunteers.  The four-star cornerback had been committed to the Hurricanes since last February, the longest for any prospect in this class for The U.

Even as that commitment came under the since-fired Al Golden, the head coach’s replacement, Richt, was able to hold on to the verbal… until this past weekend.  One final visit to Rocky Top by the Naples, Fla., star a couple of days ago was enough for Byrd to alter course and commit to the Vols.

It was also enough to piss off at least a portion of Miami fans on social media.

Rivals.com rated Byrd as the No. 7 corner in the country and the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Florida.

In addition to Byrd, the Vols further bolstered their secondary with the signing of four-star Georgia safety Nigel Warrior.  Warrior, rated as No. 4 player at his position, opted for UT over Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU.

Nation’s No. 1 recruit whittles list to Clemson, Michigan

Rashan Gary
Rivals.com
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We don’t know yet where Rashan Gary will attend college and play his football.  We do, though, (likely) know where he won’t be headed.

Heading into the stretch run before National Signing Day Wednesday, Gary, the No. 1-rated 2016 recruit according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com, was believed to have a final five that included Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Ole Miss and USC.  Alabama had also been in the running, but seemed to fall by the wayside after Gary opted to take his final official visit to Clemson this past weekend.

Roughly 36 or so hours before he reveals his decision, the defensive tackle has whittled his collegiate to-do list down even further, with his family confirming to Scout that Gary’s two finalists are Clemson and Michigan.  Gary is expected to make his announcement official shortly after 1 p.m. ET Wednesday at his high school in Paramus, NJ.

“As it stands right now, if signing day was (Tuesday), Rashan would go on and say he hasn’t decided yet,” said Gary’s mom, Jennifer Coney, told the recruiting website.

Because of a very close and personal connection, the Wolverines are considered by some to be the favorites for the 6-5, 290-pound Gary’s services.  Chris Partridge joined UM’s football staff last year before being named linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in the middle of last month.  He also just happens to be Gary’s former coach at Paramus Catholic High School.

Along with Gary, three other Rivals Top 10 2016 recruits remain uncommitted: No. 5 Ben Davis (linebacker from Alabama), No. 8 Demetris Robinson (athlete from Georgia) and No. 9 Mique Juarez (linebacker from California).  Davis is expected to announce his decision Wednesday morning, with Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame chasing presumptive frontrunner Alabama.

Announcements for Robinson (Notre Dame is considered the favorite) and Juarez (ticketed for UCLA?) have yet to be scheduled.