- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2019

You don’t need to know his brother to know Caylin Newton’s resume is impressive enough on its own merit.

In his first collegiate game, he led Howard to a win over UNLV, the FCS program’s first win over an FBS opponent and the biggest point-spread upset in college football history. He’s entering his third season as the Bison’s starting quarterback as the reigning MEAC Offensive Player of the Year. He’s on watch lists for the FCS’s offensive player of the year and the Black College Football Player of the year — awards named for Walter Payton and Deacon Jones, respectively.

The younger brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton may be unable to match his sibling’s Heisman Trophy playing at the FCS level. But Caylin Newton has made sure he won’t be lost in Cam’s shadow.

“He obviously gets the whole ‘Cam Newton’s little brother’ routine, but the reality is they’re 10 years apart,” Howard coach Ron Prince said. “I think he sees himself in a very independent way. I think he’s appreciative of his brother’s success and admires him for that, but I think there’s a lot about Caylin that a lot of people admire here.”

Caylin, Cam and their oldest brother Cecil Newton Jr. (a former NFL center) try to get on a three-way phone call together about once a week as a nice way to “refresh our minds” and talk about football, family and everything in between.

“I think people just assume that since Cam is so busy or his name so huge, that we don’t really get to talk as brothers,” Caylin Newton said. “We really talk about everything.”

Newton and Howard begin their season Saturday at Maryland in their first game under Prince after former coach Mike London left for the same job at William & Mary.

Two years ago this week, Newton made his dumbfounding debut on the college football scene when Howard traveled to Las Vegas and shocked UNLV 43-40. He ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns — including a 52-yard touchdown run on the opening drive — and threw for another 140 yards and one score.

Newton said that game taught him that anyone can be beaten — even when outside voices are saying the likelihood is 1%.

“That will forever change my life,” he said. “No matter what obstacle I face, I’ll always know that there’s at least a 1% chance of something going my way. That will forever stay with me.”

Away from the field, Newton said he doesn’t get extra attention because of his brother, noting that thanks to the litany of famous alumni at the historically black university, people at Howard don’t get “starstruck.”

If anything, Howard has become a prominent fixture on campus by giving back, Prince said.

“When the federal workers were furloughed out of work, Caylin called me and said, ‘Hey Coach, can you meet me at 5 in the morning?’” Prince said. “He goes, ‘We’re gonna go to a food drive where they’re going to collect food for the furloughed workers.’”

Prince added that JP Morgan Chase representatives invited him to speak at an event the bank held at the university about black advancement.

Despite all this, Newton said he initially had to take “a leap of faith” when starting at Howard. The Bison were coming off a 2-9 season and the head coach that he initially talked with left for another job during Newton’s recruiting process. Newton credits his father, whom he always calls Pops, for pointing him in the right direction.

“I had to swallow my pride,” he said. “I just wanted to go to a school that wanted me. I didn’t really have a dream school or an ideal school to go to. I just wanted to go to a school where I can reach all my goals and give the school everything I had.”

Could he be the next Newton brother to make the NFL? His father told the Washington Post before his freshman year that “Caylin can do everything Cam can do, and then some” — even though Caylin Newton checks in at 6 feet tall, five inches shorter than the former No. 1 overall draft pick.

Prince, who has coached at both the college and NFL levels, did not want to speculate where Newton might fit in, but he pointed out that a quarterback’s size is becoming less of an issue.

“What’s happened in the game of football, whether it’s Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray, there are more and more quarterbacks who have the physical dimensions that Caylin has that are being selected to play in the league,” Prince said. “I think it’s because of the pool of quarterbacks in college that are successful. It’s a more diverse pool than it’s ever been.”

For now, Newton will embark on a third season he hopes will build upon his first two, especially in the wins department. Howard is predicted to finish fourth in the MEAC preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors, so a few wins against favorites like North Carolina A&T and Bethune-Cookman would go a long way for the Bison to reach their goal of winning a conference title.

Prince is not downplaying the excitement factor of taking on an FBS team.

“Shoot no, it’s not business as usual,” he said. “We get a chance to go play a Big Ten team right in our backyard, that’s a big deal and we would love to do well. We anticipate doing well and we’re gonna go there and try and play to win.”

Newton is on board with that.

“I’m focused on the first play against Maryland right now,” Newton said. “All I can think about.”

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