By Bryan Fischer
SAN DIEGO – Smile. Throw. Impress. Repeat.
That was the Cam Newton Show on Thursday as the Heisman Trophy winner took to the field to show off his talent -– and trademark grin –- on the football field for the first time since winning the BCS National Championship. The display was a lot like the old Cam Newton Show, the one seen slicing through SEC defenses with precision at Auburn.
But what made this workout a little different (other than being organized by a public relations firm) was the supporting cast. Newton’s infamous father, Cecil, was out of sight. Offensive mastermind Gus Malzahn was nowhere to be found. Instead, quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon were just off center stage as Newton wowed the media for 45 minutes at Cathedral Catholic High School.
"Ever since I’ve been here, there’s been a lot of inquires, a lot of requests, about what am I doing to work out on a day-to-day basis," Newton said. "Today was a day for everybody to just see and get a glimpse of what I do on a day-to-day basis."
Moon and Whitfield are responsible for the daily grind of preparing Newton to wow the scouts at the NFL Combine in two weeks. Moon was brought on by Newton’s family to serve as a mentor and he in turn brought aboard Whitfield to help work on fundamentals.
"He's throwing from an aspect that he's never thrown from before and that's under center," Whitfield said. "He's been playing shotgun since high school and he's acclimated and comfortable with throwing from a calm base. With a (dropback), we're going to get to it. We'll keep doing it and doing it until it becomes second nature."
The two work in tandem, the guru putting Newton through the paces and the Hall of Famer watching every workout -– on video if he’s unable to attend. Although Moon describes himself as a mentor helping aid in the mental transition to NFL quarterback, he’s not afraid to interject with advice on mechanics. After a throw sailed high, Moon quickly paused the workout to point out a mechanical flaw.
"He wasn’t transferring (his weight) and he was leaning backwards," Moon said. "He has a very strong arm but I don’t care how strong it is, if you don’t have the right base you’re not going to get good accuracy. As soon as he gets that weight transferred from the back going forward, he throws the ball as accurately as anybody I’ve been around."
Working mostly on intermediate to deep throws, Newton displayed excellent velocity and good anticipation on almost every throw, finishing 26-for-33 on the day. The accuracy and fluid three- and five-step dropbacks were light-years away from when Moon first saw Newton.
"I coached (Cam) in a clinic back when he was in high school so I have a recollection of him and his skill set," Moon said. "He wasn't as big as he was right now, maybe 6-4, 220 pounds at the time. But you could tell he had a lot of raw ability."
Whitfield, who recently tutored Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his four-game suspension, has seen his current pupil’s skills come a long ways in just a few sessions. So much so, that he doesn’t mind comparing the two.
"Cam and Ben are very similar," Whitfield said. "They’re both Hummers and Cam would be like the sport version of the Hummer. They can off-road, they can carry a lot and handle a lot. You’d probably put a spoiler on Cam and that’s probably the only difference."
Newton didn’t run sprints to display his speed or practice escaping the pocket like he did so well while wearing a Tigers uniform. Instead, what he showed in the open workout was a quarterback who could make every throw.
"I would say at least top five," Moon said when asked where Newton should go in the draft. "Once he gets to the combine and they see his individual workouts, he’ll continue to move up the latter."
"I'm just trying to be the best athlete I can be," said Newton. "It's a big leap but at the same time you have to be mature enough to work on your talent when nobody's looking. This is your profession, this is your job. I have to come at it every single day trying to get better at what I want to do."
Smile. Throw. Impress. Repeat.
Thanks to a new supporting cast, Cam Newton is doing that better than ever.