When the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers meet on Thursday night in their third preseason game, both sides will feature quarterbacks who followed a similar path to NFL.
New England’s Jarrett Stidham and Carolina’s Cam Newton both starred at Auburn before being drafted into the NFL and each had tremendous success at the collegiate level.
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Newton took the Tigers to the 2010 National Championship, beating Oregon 22-19 during his Heisman Campaign. Stidham didn’t collect as many accolades but did earn All-SEC First Team honors as a junior and led Auburn to a pair of winning seasons and bowl game appearances.
Now, the two quarterbacks who played seven years apart at Auburn will compete against each other in preseason action. How they got to this point, however, isn’t so simple.
Newton, a four-star recruit from Florida, attended the University of Florida for two seasons but threw only 12 passes. His time with the Gators was tumultuous.
He was injured as a sophomore in the opening game and took a medical redshirt. Later that year, he was arrested on felony larceny charges which were later dropped. Days before the Gators won the national title, he revealed he would be transferring.
After a year in junior college at Blinn where he won NJCAA National Title, he made the move to Auburn.
Stidham from Stephenville
A highly-touted recruit out of central Texas, Stidham stayed close to home as well by attending Baylor. While there, he too struggled with playing time and injury before a coaching scandal led him to transfer.
He went to McLennan Community College where he sat out the season before heading to Auburn. Once there, he immediately earned the starting job en route to an SEC West Championship and all-conference honors.
How They Compare?
Newton obviously had much more team success than Stidham given the National Championship. But Stidham showcased his arm a bit more as a dual-threat and threw for 3,158 yards in his first-team all-conference season. Newton threw for 2,854 but did add 1,473 on the ground as opposed to Stidham’s 153.
Winning the Heisman Trophy in his final season, Newton had 30 passing touchdowns and 20 more on the ground. He threw seven interceptions during that season in only 280 passing attempts. His numbers still rank among the top quarterbacks in college football history.
But Stidham ended up with more career yards given his extra year at the school. His numbers did drop during his final season, yet he managed the same number of touchdowns, 18, with fewer interceptions, five. He finished with 370 completions as a sophomore and 369 as a junior, nearly 100 more than Newton had in his one season.
Both played under Gus Malzahn at Auburn, though his assessment of Stidham was slightly more complimentary. In an interview with AL.com, he stated:
“Jarrett probably has more flexibility than any quarterback that we’ve had since I’ve been in college,” Malzahn said. “From the standpoint to change protections, the RPOs, the decision-making, he probably has more freedom than any quarterback we’ve had.”
Not a knock on Newton, but a sign of how Stidham commanded more respect in the pocket while Newton could scramble a little more to keep a drive alive.
Either way, both quarterbacks were dominant in their time at Auburn and will likely meet following their preseason contest on Thursday.