In this article from the Courier-Journal written by C.L. Brown the leadership qualities of Morgan Newton are put on display in preparation for what could be a defining, breakout season for the quarterback. Morgan has already taken to organizing the 7-on-7 events for the team, scheduling games with local schools like Georgetown College and EKU. In addition, he has spent long amounts of time studying game footage not only tape from the past season, but also from the Andre Woodson era. The latter endeavor is only enhanced by the presence of the former UK great on the coaching staff. Morgan says he wants to transfer the successful elements of those Woodson-led teams to his squad in the upcoming season.
In contrast to the rough start of last season, when Newton expected to win the starting quarterback job, only to find himself backup to the incumbent Hartline again, Newton has devoted himself to being the leader that this team needs and his teammates have taken notice. Brown talked to senior linebacker, Ronnie Sneed, who said that Morgan started to change when he lost the position battle last year. “You could tell he was upset that he didn’t win that starting position, but I believe that pushed him to prove a point,” Sneed said. In addition to Sneed’s assessment of his different attitude, senior cornerback, Randall Burden, gave the new quarterback a ringing endorsement. “Morgan’s a workaholic. He’s working more and harder than he has in past years. He’s going to take this team on and lead it,” Burden said. With two of the team’s defensive leaders for next year throwing their support behind Newton, it’s likely that the rest of the players will follow suit. With rumors of a divided locker room over the decision to name Hartline the starter last year, a solid backing for Newton could make a world of difference in his development and the fostering of credibility with his teammates.
After leading the team to a 5-3 record in his eight starts as a freshmen and a forgettable performance last season in the 27-10 BBVA Compass Bowl loss to Pitt, expectations aren’t through the roof for Newton’s first crack at being a full-time starter. However, that may be just want he needs in the beginning. The loudest critics of Newton are quick to forget that Andre Woodson struggled in his first two seasons at UK. Newton doesn’t have as many proven playmakers around him as Woodson did, but he does have a talented complement of skill players with whom he can make his own legacy. I’m a big Morgan Newton fan and I expect him to live up to the signing day billing with which he came to Kentucky.
Yesterday, Will Lentz cited an ESPN article that named Raymond Sanders the X-factor of next year’s team. Will disagreed and so do I. This team will ride on the arm of Morgan Newton and, at this time, I’m confidently optimistic that he will be successful. Newton has the tools and the desire to be a big-time SEC quarterback and there’s no one who I’d rather see lead the Kentucky Wildcats next season.