Newton going pro after winning title

Penn State coach Joe Paterno speaks after receiving the Gerald R. Ford Award at the NCAA convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno speaks after receiving the Gerald R. Ford Award at the NCAA convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Posted: January 14, 2011

Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft after leading Auburn to a national championship and drawing nearly as much attention for a pay-for-play scandal as for his dynamic performances.

Auburn released a statement Thursday night announcing the quarterback's decision following his lone year as a major college starter. Newton led the Tigers to their first national title since 1957 and a 14-0 season with a 22-19 victory over Oregon on Monday night.

"This decision was difficult for me and my family," Newton said, adding that he made it after talking to coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

"It's been a blessing for me to be a part of something so great," he said. "Any time you win games it's a big deal, but for this school to win a BCS national championship, what a way to make people happy. Auburn is a special place that I can call home."

The former backup to Tim Tebow at Florida arrived after leading Blinn College in Texas to a junior-college national championship and won on a much bigger stage with the Tigers.

The national champions are waiting on Lombardi Award-winning defensive tackle Nick Fairley to announce his NFL decision on Friday in his hometown of Mobile, Ala. Fairley might be the No. 1 overall pick, but the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton is the guy that Chizik called "probably the best football player I've ever seen" after the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Robinson coming back. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has decided to stay and play for new coach Brady Hoke. School spokesman Dave Ablauf said Robinson informed Hoke of his decision.

Robinson's high school coach said 10 to 15 schools had called him by Wednesday afternoon, expressing their interest in the dual-threat QB if he chose to transfer.

Pasqualoni back in college. Former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni is heading back to the Big East as football coach at Connecticut.

UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway announced the hiring and said a news conference introducing Pasqualoni would be held Friday.

"We are very proud to welcome Paul Pasqualoni to the UConn family and also bring him back home to his native Connecticut," Hathaway said in a statement. "Paul brings an outstanding coaching background to UConn on the collegiate, professional and high school level."

Pasqualoni had been the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator, taking the position in November after the firing of coach Wade Phillips.

Stanford hires Shaw. David Shaw, who arrived as an assistant on the Stanford coaching staff with Jim Harbaugh four years ago, was hired to replace Harbaugh and maintain the Cardinal's place as a national contender following their most successful season in decades.

Shaw won out over fellow assistants Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, among others, to take over the program less than a week after Harbaugh left to become coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Owls' Jarrett in Senior Bowl. Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett has been selected to play in the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl. Jarrett is the seventh Temple player, and first since Stacey Mack in 1998, to play in the prestigious predraft event.

Jarrett, a two-time first-team all-MAC honoree, had 74 tackles, two interceptions, two passes defended, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery this season.

The Senior Bowl is Jan. 29 in Mobile, Ala.

Kentucky's Cobb going pro. Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb is heading to the NFL. The junior first-team all-American announced he will bypass his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Cobb led Kentucky with 955 yards receiving, 401 yards rushing, and 12 combined touchdowns. He also threw for three scores and returned a punt for a touchdown.

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