Today begins Pool 4 of the first round of the “Who Wants to be a Blogger” contest. Like last week, we will have four contestants per day, each profiling a different UK footballer. One will be eliminated tonight at 8:30 pm. Today’s judge is Chris Tomlin.
Morgan Newton — A Program Changer
Morgan Newton has not taken a snap as a college QB and I feel that he carries the weight of the entire UK football program. I am not saying this to put additional pressure on the young man, but rather this is an indication of his talent and charisma. He can be what Jamal Mashburn was to Rick Pitino for UK basketball or Johnny Dawkins was for Duke – a program changer.
The UK football team has achieved monumental success over the last three seasons (Note: Monumental is a relative term. UK’s past three seasons would be seen as moderate success to most BCS conference schools). However, UK has never quite gotten over the proverbial hump in the SEC. We have never seriously contended for an SEC East title or ended our losing streaks against Spurrier, Florida, or UT. When I describe Morgan Newton as a program changer, I mean that he has the ability to lift us past South Carolina (Finally!) and make us more competitive in the SEC East race.
How can you project a freshman to do all of this? His charisma and the effect it will have on the program especially in regards to recruiting. During the ESPN telecast of his high school football game, his father lobbied for Justin Brown to commit to UK. Although, ultimately unsuccessful, the excitement the Newtons have for UK is reminiscent of the Pattersons. I can practically guarantee Newton will be the guy that will be hosting key recruits and telling them to come to UK to play alongside of him. Also, it would be very beneficial for UK can start opening a pipeline from Indianapolis similar to the one they have with LaGrange. Currently, the Cats are going hard after Dyjuan Lewis and Isaiah Lewis from the Indy area.
Who is Morgan Newton?
2008 High School Stats:
Passing — 1938 yards with 22 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.
Rushing — 1664 yards with 26 touchdowns.
– #15 QB on ESPN
– #6 QB on Scout
– 3rd best scrambling QB according to Rivals.
– Parade All-American
– Indiana’s Mr. Football.
Scouting Report: Links to some scouting reports on him.
– Kentucky Ink
What do you project for him in 2009?
Newton elected not to enroll early for the spring semester. He did however make the trek down to Lexington numerous times on weekends to try and get a head start on learning the system. I expect that his talents will initially be used in some gadget formations. I expect him to be involved in the “wildcat” package along with being brought in to run the option. His role will start as something similar to what Florida did with Tim Tebow his freshmen year. If Mike Hartline fails to live up to his pre-season 3rd team All-SEC selection, expect to see heavy doses of Newton around the halfway point in the season. With Louisana-Monroe and Eastern Kentucky in the middle of schedule, I would expect those as the games when Newton establishes himself as the full-time starting QB.
Further down the line?
Newton has the physical tools that projecting him to be playing on Sundays does not seem far-fetched. The best part of Newton making the NFL would be for the NFL Blitz segments on SportsCenter. Tom Jackson would be unable to gleefully yell “Louisville” when asked where Morgan Newton is from (Thank you Steve Johnson!). And Chris Berman calling him “Fig” would not even get that tiresome.
Tomlin’s Take: So we meet again, Daniel Howarth! I’m just kidding, we haven’t met before. But I’m assigned to your piece, so let’s pretend that we’re old friends and this is just constructive criticism, eh?
First and foremost, Newton’s one of the guys from whom I’m looking most forward to seeing great stuff, and what you’ve brought to the table here is a definite no-frills look at the guy. It’s definitely informative, and your opinions on how he could be used are very nice. You allude to his impressive charisma as a key tool, however, and I’m not sure I understood through your description how strong that charisma is – it’s simply stated more than explained. I’d have liked to learned some instances of it. And I think it was an interesting idea – though unique – to go ahead and talk about what he’ll be like in the NFL. Talk about a preview: few reports would project that many years into a player’s future. My biggest problem, though, was the abrupt ending. I kept looking for more that wasn’t there. Let me know if I missed any additional paragraphs.
Overall, I’d say that you brought a very technical mix of fact and speculation to the table, and didn’t try to muck things up by being overly jokey or self-referential. There’s no shame in that – and there’s plenty of room on this site for a well-thought-out preview, which I think you delivered. Nice, straightforward, intelligent work here.