This Day in College Football History – May 11th

Matt Leinart (born May 11, 1983) is a former college football quarterback. He played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Arizona Cardinals (2006–09), Houston Texans (2010–2011), Oakland Raiders (2012), and Buffalo Bills (2013). Leinart was born in Santa Ana, California and attended Mater Dei High School and was a letterman in football. As a junior, he led his team to a California Interscholastic Federation Division I co-championship, and was named the Serra League’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. Wearing number 7, he was chosen as the Gatorade California high school football player of the year. As one of the nation’s top college football recruits, Leinart committed to USC under coach Paul Hackett, noting that a major factor was offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. However, after Hackett and most of his staff were fired in 2000, Leinart considered other programs such as Georgia Tech and Arizona State and visited Oklahoma before USC eventually hired Pete Carroll.

Leinart attended the University of Southern California, where he played for coach Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans football team from 2001 to 2005. He redshirted in 2001. As a freshman the next year, he understudied senior quarterback Carson Palmer, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and join the Cincinnati Bengals. Leinart appeared in only a few plays in 2002 and threw no passes. As a sophomore in 2003 Leinart beat out Matt Cassel, a redshirt junior who backed up Palmer in 2002, and Purdue transfer Brandon Hance for the starting job at quarterback. Going into the season, Carroll and his coaching staff selected Leinart not because he had set himself significantly ahead of the pack in practice, but because they needed a starting quarterback. When the coaching staff told Leinart he would be the starter, he replied, “You’re never going to regret this.” There was some thought in the press that Leinart would merely hold the starting position until highly touted true freshman John David Booty, who had bypassed his senior year in high school to attend USC, could learn the offense. His first career pass was a touchdown against Auburn. Leinart would win the first three games of his career before the then-No. 3 Trojans suffered a 34–31 triple-overtime defeat at California on September 27 that dropped the Trojans to No. 10. Leinart and the Trojans bounced back the next week against Arizona State. Leinart injured his knee in the second quarter and was not expected to play again that day, but he returned to the game and finished 12-of-23 for 289 yards in a 37–17 victory.  Leinart and the Trojans won their final eight games and finished the regular season 11–1 and ranked No. 1 in the AP and coaches’ polls. However, USC was left out of the BCS championship game after finishing third in the BCS behind Oklahoma and LSU. The Trojans went to the Rose Bowl and played University of Michigan. Leinart was named the Rose Bowl MVP after he went 23-of-34 for 327 yards, throwing three touchdowns and catching a touchdown of his own. The Trojans finished No. 1 in the AP Poll, winning the AP national championship. In 13 starts, Leinart was 255 for 402 for 3,556 yards and 38 TDs with 9 INTs. He finished sixth in the Heisman voting.

The Trojans started Leinart’s junior season (2004) with victories in their first three games. On September 25, the Trojans played Stanford University. After Stanford took a 28–17 halftime lead, Leinart sparked the offense with a 51-yard pass to Steve Smith and scored on a one-yard sneak to cut the Cardinal lead to four points. Leinart and the Trojans were able to take the lead on a LenDale White touchdown rush and hold on for the victory, 31–28. Leinart completed 24 of 30 passes. He finished the final regular season game against UCLA, but was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 25 starts. Nonetheless, Leinart was invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony, along with teammate Reggie Bush, Oklahoma’s freshman sensation Adrian Peterson, incumbent Jason White, and Utah’s Alex Smith. In what many had considered one of the more competitive Heisman races, Leinart became the sixth USC player to claim the Heisman Trophy.

In 2004, USC went wire-to-wire at No. 1 in the polls and earned a bid to the BCS title game at the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma, which was also 12–0. A dream matchup on paper (including White vs. Leinart, which was to be the first time two Heisman winners would play against each other), the Orange Bowl turned out to be a rout, as Leinart threw for five touchdown passes on 18-for-35 passing and 332 yards to lead the Trojans to a 55–19 victory. Leinart received Orange Bowl MVP honors and the Trojans claimed their first BCS national championship and second straight No. 1 finish in the AP, extending their winning streak to 22 games. This victory and BCS championship was vacated as a result of the Reggie Bush scandal (though the AP national championship still stands). The 2005 Trojans again had a perfect 12–0 regular season. Against Notre Dame, Leinart threw for a career-high 400 yards. After an incomplete pass and a sack led to a fourth-and-nine situation with 1:36 left—at the Trojans’ own 26-yard line, Leinart called an audible “slant and go” route at the line of scrimmage and threw deep against the Irish’s man-to-man coverage, where Dwayne Jarrett caught the ball and raced to the Irish’ 13-yard line, a 61-yard gain. Leinart moved the ball to the goal line as time dwindled and scored on a quarterback sneak that gave the Trojans a 34–31 lead with three seconds to go, giving the Trojans their 28th straight victory and one of the most memorable and dramatic finishes in the history of the Notre Dame–USC rivalry. Leinart was again invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony along with teammate Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young. As a former Heisman winner, Leinart cast his first-place vote for Bush, and ended up third in the voting behind Bush (since vacated) and runner-up Young. The Trojans advanced to the Rose Bowl to face Vince Young and No. 2 Texas in the BCS title game. The title game was considered another “dream matchup.” Leinart himself had a great game, going 29-of-40 for a touchdown and 365 yards, but was overshadowed by Young, who piled up 467 yards of total offense and rushed for three touchdowns, including a score with 19 seconds remaining and two-point conversion to put the Longhorns ahead, 41–38. The Trojans lost for the first time in 35 games, and Leinart for just the second time in his 39 career starts. After graduation, Leinart’s No. 11 jersey was retired at USC.

Cam Newton May 11 1989  is a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Auburn Tigers in Alabama and was drafted as the first overall pick by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is the only player in the modern era to be awarded the Heisman Trophy, win a national championship, and become the first overall pick in the NFL draft all in the same one-year span. In his rookie year, Newton broke numerous rookie and all-time NFL records for passing and running the ball. He became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 400 yards in his first game, shattering Peyton Manning’s first-game record by 120 yards. He also broke Otto Graham’s 61-year-old record for passing yards by any quarterback in an NFL debut. Newton would go on to become the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, as well as the first rookie quarterback to rush for 700 yards. He also ran for 14 touchdowns, more in a single season than any quarterback in NFL history, breaking Steve Grogan’s 35-year-old record.

Newton attended Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia, where he played for the Westlake Lions high school football team. As a 16-year-old junior, he passed for 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 638 yards and 9 touchdowns, garnering the attention of major college programs. His senior year he was rated a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, and the 28th player overall. He received scholarship offers from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. He committed to the University of Florida at the beginning of his senior year, becoming part of the top-rated recruiting class in the country for 2008.

Newton initially attended the University of Florida, where he was a member of the Florida Gators football team in 2007 and 2008. As a freshman in 2007, Newton beat out fellow freshman quarterback John Brantley as the back-up for eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. He played in five games, passing for 40 yards on 5-of-10 and rushing 16 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns. In 2008, during his sophomore season, Newton played in the season opener against Hawaii but suffered an ankle injury and took a medical redshirt season. On November 21, 2008, Newton was arrested for the theft of a laptop computer from another University of Florida student. He was subsequently suspended from the team after the laptop was found to be in his possession. Newton announced his intention to transfer from Florida three days before the Gators’ national championship win over Oklahoma. In January 2009, Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas to play for head coach Brad Franchione, son of Dennis Franchione. That fall he led his team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship, throwing for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushing for 655 yards. He was named a Juco All-America honorable mention and was the most recruited juco quarterback in the country. Newton was ranked as the number one quarterback from either high school or junior college by Rivals.com and was the only five-star recruit. During Newton’s recruitment, Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Auburn were his three finalists. He eventually signed with the Tigers.

Newton started the first game of Auburn University’s 2010 season, a home win over Arkansas State on September 4, 2010. Newton accounted for 5 total offensive touchdowns and over 350 yards of total offense. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance. Three weeks later Newton had a second break-out game with 5 total touchdowns and over 330 total offensive yards against the South Carolina Gamecocks. On October 2, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 52–3 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. He completed three touchdown passes, one of which went for 94 yards. It was the longest touchdown pass and offensive play in Auburn football history. On October 9, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 37–34 victory over Kentucky. He passed for 210 yards and rushed for 198 yards including 4 rushing touchdowns. On October 16, 2010, during the Arkansas game, Newton ran for three touchdowns and threw one touchdown pass. Following these performances, media reports began to list Newton among the top 5 candidates to watch for the Heisman Trophy. On October 23, 2010, Newton led Auburn to a 24–17 victory over the LSU Tigers. He rushed for 217 yards in the game, giving him 1,077 yards for the season, and set the SEC record for yards rushing in a season by a quarterback—a record previously held by Auburn quarterback, Jimmy Sidle, that stood for over 40 years. After this game, Newton became just the second quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in the conference’s history. He also broke Pat Sullivan’s school record for most touchdowns in a single season—a record that has stood since 1971—with 27. Both of these records were broken on the same play: a 49-yard touchdown run in which Newton escaped two tackles, corrected himself with his arm, eluded two additional tackles, and dragged a defender into the endzone for the touchdown. The play was described as Newton’s “Heisman moment”. Auburn received its first No. 1 overall BCS ranking, and Newton was listed as the overall favorite for the Heisman.

By halftime of the game against Georgia, Newton became the first SEC player to ever throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. With the victory, Auburn improved to 11–0 and clinched the SEC West, allowing them to play in the SEC Championship game. Newton led Auburn to a 28–27 victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl after being down 24–0. The 24-point come-from-behind victory was the largest in the program’s 117-year history. He passed for 216 yards with three passing touchdowns and ran for another. On December 4, 2010 Newton led the Tigers to an SEC Championship, their first since 2004, by defeating South Carolina 56–17, setting an SEC Championship Game record for most points scored and largest margin of victory. Newton was named the game MVP after scoring a career-best six touchdowns (four passing and two rushing). With his performance, Newton also became the third player in NCAA FBS history to throw and run for 20-plus touchdowns in a single season (along with former Florida teammate Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick, who reached the milestone earlier the same day).[30] Newton was named the 2010 SEC Offensive Player of the Year as well as the 2010 AP Player of the Year. He was also one of four finalists for the 2010 Heisman Trophy, which he won in a landslide victory. He is the third Auburn player to win the Heisman Trophy (along with Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson).

Following the victory in the SEC Championship, Auburn was invited to participate in the school’s first BCS National Championship Game. The game took place on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona, with Auburn playing against the Oregon Ducks. In a game that Steve Spurrier predicted to score as high as 60–55, Auburn beat Oregon just 22–19 to win the BCS National Championship. Newton threw for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed 22 times for 65 yards, though he lost a fumble that later allowed Oregon to tie the game with limited time remaining. Once Auburn received the ball, Newton drove the Tigers down the field to win the game on Wes Byrum’s last-second field goal. Media outlets wrote that Newton was upstaged by teammate Michael Dyer (the game’s Offensive MVP) and Auburn’s defense, which held the high-powered Oregon ground game to just 75 yards On January 13, three days after winning the BCS National Championship, Newton declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season.

Newton spent much of the second half of the 2010 football season embroiled in a controversy regarding allegations that his father, Cecil Newton, had sought substantial sums of money in return for his son playing for a major college football team, in violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. In early November 2010, several Mississippi State University athletic boosters reported to the media that, during their recruitment of his son out of Blinn College nearly a year earlier, Cecil Newton said that it would take “more than just a scholarship” to secure his son’s services. This demand was communicated by booster and former Mississippi State football player Kenny Rogers to fellow boosters and former teammates Bill Bell and John Bond. Rogers said in a Dallas radio interview that Cecil Newton said it would take “anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000” to get his son to transfer to Mississippi State. Auburn maintained throughout the investigation, which had begun several months before the public was made aware of it, that they were not involved in any pay-for-play scheme and that Cam Newton was fully eligible to play.

On November 30, Auburn declared Cam Newton ineligible after the NCAA found evidence that Cecil Newton solicited Mississippi State $120,000 to $180,000 in exchange for Cam Newton’s athletic service, a violation of amateurism. Auburn immediately filed to have him reinstated on the basis that Kenny Rogers could not be considered an agent and that Cam Newton was not aware of his father’s illegal activity. The NCAA almost immediately sided with Auburn and reinstated Newton the next day on December 1, declaring him eligible for the 2010 SEC Championship Game three days later, stating that there was not sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn had any knowledge of Cecil Newton’s actions. Auburn subsequently limited the access Cecil Newton had to the program as result of NCAA findings. Also, due to increased pressure by the media and the NCAA investigation, Cecil Newton announced he would not attend the Heisman Trophy Ceremony. The NCAA reinstatement did not clear Cecil Newton of any wrongdoing; it did, however, establish Cam Newton’s eligibility as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which he won in a landslide victory with 2,263 points and 729 first-place votes. In October 2011, the NCAA officially closed its 13-month investigation into the recruitment of Cam Newton, unable to substantiate any allegation or speculation of illicit recruiting by Auburn, and concluded that Cecil Newton only solicited a cash payment from Mississippi State and no other institution attempting to recruit his son. The investigation, which consisted of over 50 interviews and the reviewing of numerous bank records, IRS documents, telephone records, and e-mail messages, resulted in no findings that would indicate Auburn participated in any pay-for-play scenario in signing Cam Newton.  The NCAA said that the allegations failed to “meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media” and that the allegations were not “based on credible and persuasive information”. The NCAA’s Stacey Osburn said “We’ve done all we can do. We’ve done all the interviews. We’ve looked into everything and there’s nothing there. Unless something new comes to light that’s credible and we need to look at, it’s concluded.”

In late January 2011, Newton began working out with George Whitfield Jr. in San Diego. Whitfield has worked with other quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Akili Smith. On April 28, 2011, Newton was selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He was the first reigning Heisman Trophy winner to go first overall since Carson Palmer in 2003. He also was Auburn’s fourth No. 1 selection after Tucker Frederickson (1965), Bo Jackson (1986), and Aundray Bruce (1988). During the 2011 NFL lockout, he spent up to 12 hours a day at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, FL, spending up to two hours per day doing one-on-one training with fellow Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke. Before the draft, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson asked Newton to maintain his clean-cut appearance after Newton told Richardson he had no tattoos or piercings and was thinking about growing his hair longer. Although this is similar to a policy the New York Yankees has on all of its players, this gained some controversy on Richardson’s part due to the fact that other players (most notably Steve Smith and Jeremy Shockey) had visible tattoos and, in Shockey’s case, had longer hair earlier in his career with the New York Giants. Reactions were so strong that some even accused Richardson of racism. Despite this, Newton agreed to Richardson’s dress code policies as a condition of being drafted first overall.

John Philip “Little Clipper” Smith (December 12, 1904 – May 11, 1973) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He played college football as a guard at the University of Notre Dame under Knute Rockne. Smith was a consensus All-American in 1927. He later served as the head coach at North Carolina State University from 1931 to 1933 and at Duquesne University from 1936 to 1938, compiling a career record of 28–24–5. Smith was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1975. He died on May 11, 1973 in West Hartford, Connecticut just before a National Football Foundation awards dinner that was to have honored him.[

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