Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor’s careers have been clown mirror versions of one another. Slightly distorted but resemble one another in a prism. One was the #1 recruit in the nation. The other became the NFL’s #1 overall pick. Both were highly touted high school recruits out of high school but one was bigger. If ESPN’s 150 Recruiting Ranking was the cast of In Living Color, Terrelle Pryor was Damon Wayans and Cam Newton would have been a little known Fly Girl dancer named Jennifer Lopez.
Despite throwing for 2,500 yards, 23 touch downs with a 62% completion percentage in his junior season, schools such as UGA projected Cam Newton as a tight end. The only other position, Pryor was offered to play at the Division I level was college basketball at the University of Pittsburgh. Pryor threw for just 1,790 yards and 36 touchdowns in his senior season but ran for 1,900 and 23 trips to the end zone rushing. As prolific of a runner as Pryor was in high school, Newton ran for more touchdowns in his Heisman season than Pryor did in his entire college career.
In 2007, Cam Newton arrived at Florida, a national championship winning program as Tim Tebow’s backup. Tebow was considered the savior of Florida’s program before stepping onto the field. He was even more popular in his Wildcat role as a freshman than starter Chris Leak. Tebow lived past the hype by taking the Heisman Trophy home in his sophomore season. Newton played in spot duty and ran for 3 touchdowns. While Pryor’s never had any legal trouble, Newton left the Florida program during his sophomore year after throwing a stolen laptop from a dorm window and was allegedly on academic probation at the time of his departure. In 2008, Terrelle Pryor arrived at Ohio State as arguably the most heralded recruit in school history. Pryor’s hype rivaled the hoopla around Tim Tebow’s freshman season.
Because of his high school basketball commitments, Pryor took the unusual method of waiting until one month after signing day to announce his college choice. Three years later, in an odd coincidence, Pryor is entering the NFL Draft, two months after the conventional NFL Draft.
While Newton ultimately flourished in Auburn’s spread offense (and would have done the same at Florida), Pryor chose Ohio State over Michigan because of Jim Tressel’s pro-style offense. Even at his announcement presser, Pryor was looking forward to the NFL. By the fourth week of his freshman season, Pryor was Ohio State’s starting quarterback. Cam Newton on the other hand didn’t earn his first start until his redshirt junior year and third college. While freshman Terrelle Pryor was leading Ohio State to the Rose Bowl, Cam Newton was scouting junior colleges to attend.
Much of that hype around Pryor, contributed to the cocky attitude his teammates came to loathe. Newton’s teammates rallied around him after details emerged about his father Cecil’s attempt to initiate a pay-to-play scheme with Mississippi State during his son’s second recruitment. Newton credited his newfound maturity to his blue collar stint at tiny Blinn College, where he led the Texas JUCO power house to a national championship in his only season.
While Newton played in the shadows of the JUCO National Championship, Pryor was leading The Ohio State to a win over Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl. That night, Pryor threw for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and ran for 72 yards. Twelve months later, Newton led Auburn over Oregon in the National Championship Game. Newton threw for 265 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and ran for 64 yards in the victory.
Four years later, their fortunes have reversed. Cam Newton took the route destiny had seemingly laid out for Terrelle Pryor. On Draft Day, Newton stood in front of the media at Madison Square Garden and was the first player to shake hands with Commissioner Goodell. Weeks later, Pryor sat in front of the media and apologized for his role in Ohio State’s dismantling. Newton, not Pryor, will be taking the snaps as the savior of a franchise, while Pryor may be just another third stringer or practice player.
It’s still possible the NCAA’s ongoing investigation could uncover evidence of wrongdoing involving Cam Newton at Auburn and retroactively alter Cam Newton’s legacy at Ohio State. But for now, unlike Pryor, he is arguably the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) at Auburn. Pryor is just the goat.
Although, Cam Newton is the newest face of the Panthers franchise, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be successful. Despite passing for 6,177 yards, 57 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in three seasons, most scouts believe that Pryor projects as a tight end or a big receiver. It’s reminiscent of Cam Newton’s pre-Florida days. From his freshman season to his junior campaign, Pryor progressively improved as a drop back passer.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton has been quoted saying that he sees himself as an icon. Terrelle Pryor appeared humbled when announcing his entry into the NFL’s lackluster Supplemental Draft. From what we’ve seen so far, the future isn’t set in stone for either Newton or Pryor. I wouldn’t bet on—or against either of them.Please take a minute to open and read ads on the site and help support maintaining. Each ad you open helps pay to keep the site up. Thanks for your support, and feel free to refer your friends and family to this site.