NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Cam Newton quarterback of the Auburn University Tigers poses with the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award on December 11 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
This week, the SBNation network has been celebrating the new EA Sports NCAA Football 13 game by talking Heisman hypotheticals. The question a lot of sites has been answering is this: if you could put any Heisman winner on your favorite team, who would you pick? It can't be one of the winners from that school.
There actually is a correct answer to the question. As long as you're not Oklahoma State, the only choice is Barry Sanders. His 1988 season of 2,850 yards on a 7.6 yards per carry average with 42 TDs is the best individual season ever. That's only in 12 games, too. Had he gotten a just a 13th game as every bowl team does these days, he'd have been over the 3,000 yard mark. As in, rushed for over 3,000 yards in a single season. There's Barry, and then there's everyone else. To make things more interesting, I eliminated him from consideration.
After that, it was a tough decision between picking a quarterback or a wide receiver for Florida this fall. The Gators have needs at both positions. The need at receiver is greater, but that gives only two options of Tim Brown and Desmond Howard. Quarterback is the most important position on the field, so I ended up going with that spot.
Going with the quarterback position gives the most options, as more QBs have won the statuette than any other position. Ultimately the decision wasn't so much about which guy to pick as it was if I should pick one guy versus the field. I ended up going with that one guy: Cam Newton.
Now, Will Muschamp wants to run a pro-set. I don't think he'd ever hire someone like Dan Mullen or Gus Malzahn as his offensive coordinator even if he did have a young Newton waiting to blossom. That said, Cam showed last year in the NFL that he can still be brilliant while operating something other than an explicit spread option scheme.
Florida needs a lot of help on offense, so the perfect fit is a one-man wrecking crew like Newton. A pocket-bound guy like Carson Palmer or Sam Bradford wouldn't be optimal. If the running game with unproven commodities Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown doesn't work that well, Newton can make up for it. If the receivers don't show improvement over last year, the threat of Newton running can draw the defense and help those guys get open. Muschamp's inclination isn't to have the quarterback do that much running, but he saw at Texas in 2009 that Colt McCoy's mobility made up for a litany of shortcomings on the Longhorns' offense. Newton's greater size, speed, and arm strength can make up for that many more.
I suppose here is where I throw in the required caveat. I am specifically referring to the junior year, Heisman-winning Cam Newton. I would not pick freshman Cam Newton to put on the Gators team, and it's not just because a more experienced player is going to be better. Newton was by his own admission immature when he was at Florida, and his long list of problems are proof of it. He did a lot of growing up at Blinn College and was in a much better place personally when he arrived at Auburn. If I am putting the freshman version of a Heisman winner on my team, I'm going with Herschel Walker and letting him take the pressure off of Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. Based on hindsight, freshamn Cam Newton won't become Heisman Cam Newton until after he leaves the program.
Florida's offense is being rebuilt right now, and that means it's a multi-year project to get every position stacked the way it should be. It needs someone who can carry the highest amount of load possible, and that means Cam Newton.
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)