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Auburn coach: Cam Newton “the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room”

BCS Championship Football AP

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is lashing out at critics of Cam Newton, saying that the Heisman Trophy winner has what it takes to be a great NFL quarterback.

Responding in particular to draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki’s harsh assessment of Newton, Malzahn said this morning on ESPN Radio that Newton has a great work ethic and is a tremendous team leader.

“He was a joy to coach,” Malzahn said. “You know what he did on the field, but off the field he’s an even better person.”

Malzahn praised Newton’s leadership abilities as well.

“He’s a great leader,” Malzahn said. “He’s the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room.”

Of course, there are a number of draft analysts who say Newton’s problems are more about the fundamental questions of whether Newton can succeed as a pro-style pocket passer. And those questions largely revolve around Malzahn’s spread offense, which had Newton line up in the shotgun on every snap and may not have prepared him to play quarterback in the NFL. Malzahn dismisses that criticism.

“I hear stuff about our offense being spread,” Malzahn said. “A lot of our concepts are the same concepts that he’s going to run at the next level. . . . He can make every throw, he’s a great decision maker, he sees the field very well.”

So the coach whose offense was run to near-perfection by Newton last year is a big fan of Newton’s. That’s no surprise. The question now is whether NFL coaches will think Newton can run their offenses as well as he ran Malzahn’s.

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38 Responses to “Auburn coach: Cam Newton “the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room””
  1. berniemadoffsides says: Apr 1, 2011 9:07 AM

    With all due respect, Coach, I think most of us would agree that Visanthe Shiancoe is the best we’ve ever seen in the locker room.

  2. tombradysponytail says: Apr 1, 2011 9:12 AM

    Clearly, he’s never seen Visanthe Shiancoe…

  3. nps6724 says: Apr 1, 2011 9:13 AM

    “He was a joy to coach,” Malzahn said. “You know what he did on the field, but off the field he’s an even better person.”

    Malzahn praised Newton’s leadership abilities as well.

    “He’s a great leader,” Malzahn said. “He’s the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room.”

    I love PFT’s April Fool’s posts.

  4. paul82461 says: Apr 1, 2011 9:14 AM

    Do you really think he would say he sucks and has a diva attitude? Thats like a daughter asking her mom if she thinks shes pretty.

  5. thompgk says: Apr 1, 2011 9:15 AM

    Wait a second….

    You guys at PFT have been playing up this Nawrocki stuff about him being a cancer in the locker room and a guy that the coaches don’t trust……

    And now, you’re downplaying his college coach saying the exact opposite?

  6. bluepike says: Apr 1, 2011 9:19 AM

    Don’t cry Gus. They’re just opinions. Everyone has one and everyone is entitled to them.

  7. seanmmartin says: Apr 1, 2011 9:20 AM

    Malzahn is just saying this so his system will hold some sort of NFL credit… but that’s impossible.

  8. francheyes says: Apr 1, 2011 9:21 AM

    He’s already a “celebrity” right? This coach must not know him very well. Anywho, the NFL will turn him into more of a drama queen, just watch…It’s all about the money now.

  9. smarterthantheaveragebearfan says: Apr 1, 2011 9:23 AM

    He’s going to be the biggest bust since Jamarcus Russell. Bank on it…….

  10. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Apr 1, 2011 9:23 AM

    The real question is can he be a leader during adversity? It’s easy to lead when things are great. It’s only in times of distress or adversity that true leadership is defined.

  11. footballhistorian says: Apr 1, 2011 9:28 AM

    I can’t believe that there hasn’t been a “That’s what she said” to the title of this article….

  12. jimr10 says: Apr 1, 2011 9:33 AM

    When i saw the headline, i could hardly wait to see how Cam haters would post.

  13. packattack1967 says: Apr 1, 2011 9:36 AM

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  14. zimaman says: Apr 1, 2011 9:37 AM

    what would you expect him to say? of course he is going to defend his man!

    that being said Nawrocki had a valid source for his report – i do believe that

    the truth is likely somewhere in the middle – Cam Newton is no different then any of us. We have highs and lows.

    I think in this case the coach accentuated the highs and maybe Nolans report leaned toward the negative.

  15. bgmathis says: Apr 1, 2011 9:40 AM

    That headline just sounds wrong…

  16. CJ says: Apr 1, 2011 9:47 AM

    What’s he supposed to say? The truth?

    Yeah, that’ll do wonders for recruiting. But nothing I’m sure a couple extra Benjamins in a handshake can’t fix I’m sure.

  17. tashkalucy says: Apr 1, 2011 9:50 AM

    I know there’s a lockout/strike, but this is the bottom of the barrel article.

    This is a kid that had one great year in college along with a host of questionable moves before he got to Auburn. And now he’s going to an NFL team and he’s going to do….what? Dominate on the field and in the locker room? Really?

    PFT is mostly about cosmetic gossip and altering fans perceptions of players and coaches. It might be nice if during this lull readers might get some objective articles on coaches systems and how players do in them. But no one publishing sports news does that. It’s all People Magazine fluff now, not journalism….that takes work.

  18. daytonaken says: Apr 1, 2011 9:51 AM

    We will see. He will be drafted and given a chance.

  19. mcwest1 says: Apr 1, 2011 9:54 AM

    IMO, Nawrocki made a mistake in talking to people who will put out negative comments about a player hoping they create enough doubt that the player falls to the team which they represent.

    Nawrocki presented one side and failed to get Newton’s former teammates’ perspective of hm. Even opposing defensive players might have been able to give some insight as to what kind of a leader Newton was on the field.

  20. panthersfan4life says: Apr 1, 2011 9:58 AM

    “He was a joy to coach,” Malzahn said. “You know what he did on the field, but off the field he’s an even better person.”

    Yeah up until he steals you computer.

  21. mcwest1 says: Apr 1, 2011 10:02 AM

    When reporters print only one side of a story they leave the door open to what can easily be deemed “racist”.

    On top of Nawrocki not seeking another side to the Newton portrayal, he didn’t take even 5 minutes on the telephone to talk to Newton.

    If Nawrocki’s goal was to make a name for himself, he succeeded. If his goal was to be a responsible journalist, he failed miserably.

  22. cryptker says: Apr 1, 2011 10:04 AM

    What would you expect this guy to say…I believe him…NOT!

  23. blkmanwtan says: Apr 1, 2011 10:07 AM

    thereisalwaysnextyear says: Apr 1, 2011 9:23 AM
    The real question is can he be a leader during adversity? It’s easy to lead when things are great. It’s only in times of distress or adversity that true leadership is defined.

    —————————————–

    Did you watch the game between Auburn and Alabama? Down 24-0 in Alabama, no one makes a come back in Alabama.

  24. stellarperformance says: Apr 1, 2011 10:13 AM

    Brett Favre said. “He’s the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room.”

  25. bradwins says: Apr 1, 2011 10:28 AM

    Ah…..APRIL FOOLS!

    I get it.

  26. CJ says: Apr 1, 2011 10:36 AM

    mcwest1 says:
    Apr 1, 2011 9:54 AM

    Nawrocki presented one side and failed to get Newton’s former teammates’ perspective of hm. Even opposing defensive players might have been able to give some insight as to what kind of a leader Newton was on the field.

    _____________

    Who’s saying he didn’t? A coach with a vested interest of protecting the best recruit they’ve had in years, possibly in order to attract more recruits of the same caliber?

    IMO, people are more apt to speak the truth off the record than, someone who would go on the record to protect the player for his own benefit. With that said, it is completely possible that this guy’s sources are jsut scouts from Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, etc. hoping to tank Newton’s draft stock so they can snatch him up.

  27. thefiesty1 says: Apr 1, 2011 10:39 AM

    Better than your Arkansas High School QB that you followed to Arkansas? What, he lasted a year and then bolted to USC and faded away into oblivion.

    Best you’ve ever seen??? Compared to who?

  28. CJ says: Apr 1, 2011 10:41 AM

    bradwins says:
    Apr 1, 2011 10:28 AM

    APRIL FOOLS!
    ________

    This would be pretty weak. Let’s do something drastic, like say, tell the world Terry Bradshaw died.

    Oh wait, that’s been done here before, and not even on April Fools!

  29. schulzey22 says: Apr 1, 2011 10:42 AM

    Anyone looks good compared to Mitch Mustain and whoever Tulsa trotted out.

  30. bukes111 says: Apr 1, 2011 10:55 AM

    Nawrocki on Jamarcus Russell in 2007:

    “Relies too much on his arm and natural ability and does not like to work; Has a lackadaisical approach to the game; Will require very tough coaching from a strong, authoritative figure, or he will get away with everything he can and may never develop; For as much upside as he has — and it’s off the charts — his downside is just as great, and he could be out of the league just as fast as he is in the Pro Bowl.”

    Pretty spot on.

  31. bamasucks says: Apr 1, 2011 11:05 AM

    why trust the guy that spent a year coaching Newton? let’s believe the idiot that’s never even met him and bases his scouting profile on second-hand info and a smile.

  32. rayguyreturns says: Apr 1, 2011 11:28 AM

    Auburn coach: Cam Newton “the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room”
    _____________________________________

    So coach, let’s talk about this “man crush”….

  33. George Brundage says: Apr 1, 2011 11:37 AM

    Mike Price loved Ryan Leaf… How’d that turn out?

  34. philtration says: Apr 1, 2011 11:56 AM

    George Brundage says: Apr 1, 2011 11:37 AM

    Mike Price loved Ryan Leaf… How’d that turn out?
    ====================================

    It turned out great… for the Colts.

  35. stealthjunk says: Apr 1, 2011 12:26 PM

    “The best I’ve ever seen”? Wow! What an insult to all the former Auburn players that went through that program with class.

  36. dspyank2k11 says: Apr 1, 2011 12:54 PM

    uh…. thanks?

  37. lucky5927 says: Apr 1, 2011 2:43 PM

    Not a Cam Newton fan overall, but if he was such a cancer in that locker room, Auburn as a team would not have had his back on and off the field in route to a national championship. History has shown us that a cancer in a locker room can derail a team. Now I am not saying he won’t be a headache in the NFL, but coach Malzahn is on point with this assessment.

  38. espnfeedback says: Apr 2, 2011 3:21 AM

    Only an indictable TRUTH can cause this many angry white dudes to attack you with such intensity. Moon obviously hit a raging raw nerve.

    None of you…NOT ONE of you sociology experts have ever faced the kind of institutional Overt Racism that Mr Moon has faced. Being told despite being a classic pocket qb coming out of UWashington with the best throwing arm in his class by miles. Having to leave your country to play the game that you were the Best at. Gathering yourself like a Man and forcefully breaking down the doors of the NFL and becoming a HOF!

    Thanks for all of your emotional, maintain the status quo, Warren Moon is just a communist agitator type rantings. Bit I’ll trust him on this subject.

    @ESPNfeedback

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