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Comfort Zone

New QB Cameron Newton feels at home in Auburn's offense, making the Tigers a factor in a wide-open SEC

Every time Cameron Newton jogged to the sideline on Saturday night at Auburn, he heard a voice that to him is as soothing as a lullaby. "Come on, Cammy-Cam!" Newton's mother, Jackie, shouted from her seat at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "Yes, you can, Cammy-Cam!"

"That voice puts me at ease," Newton said late last Saturday night, after he led No. 10 Auburn (4--0) to a 35--27 win over No. 19 South Carolina (3--1). "It helps to be relaxed."

The 6'6", 250-pound Newton is one of most dynamic, dangerous players in the country—and one who will surely play a major role in determining who wins the SEC. Against South Carolina, which entered the game boasting the SEC's top rushing defense (59.7 yards a game), Newton was a running machine, powering his way for 176 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. He also completed 16 of 21 passes for 158 yards and two more TDs.

"Cam is getting more comfortable by the week," says Tigers offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. "His best days are ahead of him."

Newton's path to the Plains was a circuitous one. Coming out of Westlake High in College Park, Ga., Newton turned down scholarship offers from nearly every SEC school to attend Florida. But in November 2008 he was suspended from the team after being arrested and charged with burglary, larceny and obstruction regarding a stolen laptop. (Newton claimed he didn't know the laptop was stolen when he purchased it from another student. The charges were dropped after he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.) After the incident Newton transferred to Blinn (Texas) College, where he rapidly developed into a silky run-pass threat in the Vince Young mold, while guiding Blinn to the NJCAA national championship. Rated as the No. 1 juco prospect in the country by last winter, Newton picked Auburn over Oklahoma and Mississippi State because of the Tigers' fast-paced spread offense, which appears to be a custom fit for Newton's ability.

Late on Saturday night, as the SEC's newest game-changer lay on a wooden table inside the Auburn locker room, he was a picture of tranquility as he smiled brightly at teammates who strolled past. Yes, Cameron Newton is definitely comfortable in his new home, which should be disquieting news for the rest of the SEC.

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Newton's Law The QB has been a man in motion for the Tigers, rushing for five touchdowns and throwing for nine more.