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December 31, 2009

Five-star QB goes in-depth about AU

Five-star quarterback Cameron Newton didn't think it would be an easy decision, and he was right.

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Newton, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 overall junior college prospect, narrowed his choices to Auburn, Mississippi State and Oklahoma before choosing to sign with the Tigers on Thursday.

"It was tough," Newton said. "Real tough. I couldn't have gone wrong with any of the three schools. Mississippi State is a hell of a program. Oklahoma is a hell of a program, but those Auburn coaches did a great job recruiting me, and the Auburn visit was almost overwhelming."

Newton took an official visit to Auburn Dec. 18-20. He left the Plains "on Cloud Nine". There wasn't anything he found negative about the campus, the coaches or the players.

"I enjoyed everything from top to bottom, inside and out," he said. "Auburn's coaches did such a great job of recruiting me. They didn't overdo it. They just spoke the truth. That's all I wanted. I needed to feel comfortable around the coaches I would be playing for.

"I felt like I had known the Auburn coaches for years. The family atmosphere, being able to talk to them, not just about football but everything else, was big for me."

The coaches leading the charge for Auburn were lead recruiter Curtis Luper and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gus Malzahn.

"Coach Luper played a really big part," Newton said. "They both did. Coach Luper and Coach Malzahn just did a tremendous job recruiting me. Coach Luper is a great person. He's a great recruiter, a great coach. He's someone that is high-energy, someone recruits can relate to. He's easy to get along with and I just really like talking, hanging with him.

"Coach Malzahn is a great person and great coach, too. He really stresses being a family and I really like that. From the offensive line to the defensive backs, the trust factor all of the players have with each other was real big for me to see."

Newton had interest in Auburn before his official visit, but following his three-day stay on campus, his interest skyrocketed. He met the coaches and hung out with several players. He was hosted by Mario Fannin, whom he knew from his high school days. Newton played at Westlake in Atlanta, Ga. Fannin at Lovejoy.

"When I went on the visit, I already felt like a part of their family," Newton said. "It was as smooth as it could be. I loved everything about it. The visit was the marquee point with my recruitment and Auburn. It was big for me to go on the visit. I'm not going to lie. If I hadn't taken that visit, I'd be telling you I was going to another school right now."

Newton said his visit nearly convinced him Auburn was the place for him. He didn't want to rush into anything. So he did his homework. Newton studied more on the Tigers. He and his father researched Auburn's coaches, its traditions, its depth charts and even its 2010 commitment list.

"I didn't want to make any mistakes with this decision," Newton said. "I wanted to make sure."

Newton knew for sure earlier this week. He said he called Auburn coach Gene Chizik Wednesday to inform him of his decision. Newton announced his commitment publicly Thursday.

"It feels great to get it over with," he said. "It also feels great for me to be a part of the Auburn Tiger Family. It's real big for me and my family with Auburn being right down the street from Atlanta. It's just real big. I'm really excited."

With his decision now out of the way, Newton will turn his focus on what he wants to accomplish in his two years at Auburn. The first one is easy, he said.

"I feel like I can lead the team to a championship or two, and that's what I plan on doing," he said. "From the first day to my last game as a senior, I'm going to play and practice like I'm trying to win a championship.

"You see the upperclassmen and experience we have from the offensive line to the receivers and know that they are going to play a key part in our road to the SEC championship. I really can't wait to get to Auburn and start working on that title."

Newton is expected to compete immediately to fill the void left by graduating quarterback Chris Todd. Newton will enroll at Auburn in January and go through spring practice.

"That was another thing I liked," Newton said. "I saw an opportunity to step into a top-notch program and be that type of player, a player that could help win a championship.

"There isn't any doubt Auburn was the right place for me, the best fit for me. I love the campus, the coaches, the opportunity to not only play, but win a championship."

Cecil Newton, Cameron's father, said it didn't take much for him to understand why his son was so interested in Auburn. Cecil Newton met Luper. He met Malzahn. He spoke to the rest of the Tigers' coaches.

"The coaches are great," Cecil Newton said. "Coach Malzahn, in all of my research and checking, people only had great things to say about him. He's a bright offensive mind. He's really taken Auburn to a different level across the board. Even the recruits he has committed right now says a lot about his system.

"Coach Luper, like Cameron said, is just a great person and a great recruiter. He made us feel very comfortable with the decision. Cameron really did a lot of due diligence, comparing program to program, not just coaches but the traditions of the programs, the distances, the depth chart, a whole lot of stuff. We came to the decision together that Auburn was the best place."

Cecil Newton said now it's time to put recruiting behind them and move on.

"The day has come," he said. "This chapter is behind us and it's a big sigh of relief. It was a difficult decision, but I know Auburn is the right choice. We are very excited about (Cameron) going to Auburn. We are very excited. We know Auburn is the right fit for him. I know Auburn and Cameron can do big things together."

So does the newest Tiger commitment.

"I can't wait to get there," Cameron Newton said. "I have really big goals for the team and I know we are going to do everything we can to reach them. I won't settle for anything less than a championship at Auburn. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that happens."

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