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Howard University: Caylin Newton building his own legacy

Caylin Newton
Photo Credit: The Undefeated

If you grew up with older siblings, you can understand the want to prove your superiority. Whether it was racing home from the bus stop, winning a match of Super Smash Bros., or finishing your chores faster, the younger sibling often looks for any chance possible to go toe-to-toe with their older brother or sister. This, in an attempt to prove to yourself you can defeat the almighty older sibling. However, it also served as an opportunity to gain respect and acceptance, which in many cases the younger sibling often seeks.

For athletes who are the younger sibling of an already established professional player, that can raise the expectations and force-feed the spotlight in their direction. For Caylin Newton, no he doesn’t go by “Cam’s little brother”, that wasn’t always the case. Newton left Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia with zero FBS offers despite the name recognition. For the then 5’11”, 185 pound listed “athlete”, only a few teams came knocking.

Granted, Caylin didn’t inherit the physical gifts that Cam did. The former NFL MVP has roughly six inches and 50 pounds on his younger brother. However, that doesn’t mean the Howard star can’t ball in his own right.

It didn’t take long for Caylin to make his impression on college football. In his very first start as a true freshman, he led the biggest point-spread upset in college football history in a 43-40 win over UNLV. He went on that season to be named MEAC Rookie of the Year as he started to build his own legacy.

True dual threat

Where Cam and Caylin differ in size, they overlap in play styles. Newton has terrorized opposing MEAC opponents with both his arm and his feet. He’s led the conference in passing yards each of his first two seasons and has been among the leading rushers both years as well. While Newton has the quickness and breakaway speed, he doesn’t shy away from using his body.

Willing to break defenses down with physicality, you often see Newton extending runs for extra yards. Whether he’s barreling a defender or dragging one, he’s displayed surprising power at his frame with a nice blend of speed and strength. A dual-threat quarterback isn’t complete without his arm, of course.

While Newton’s arm may not be ready for the next level quite yet, he’s shown a ton of flashes through his first two college seasons. He can hit out breaking routes at the sideline with touch and anticipation. He can squeeze throws into tight coverage with zip. Where Newton varies from most dual threats at the college level, he’s not scared to push the ball deep.

On many occasions, especially this past season, we saw Newton connect vertically with Jequez Ezzard and Kyle Anthony. Newton has an active trigger on the deep ball and made a bunch of impressive placement throws in that phase of the field. He’s a threat on every drop back, every scramble, and every throw.

Consistency is key

Newton’s outings through the air are of that of a roller coaster. Just a peek at his game logs reveals that fact. Even though it’s not all about the stat sheet, it certainly tells part of the story. Newton threw an interception in every game last season with at least two in seven of 11 contests.

On a snap to snap basis, you’ll notice the strong inconsistencies in Newton’s game. He’s shown the ability to make NFL throws. That comes with a tradeoff, however. While Newton has led the MEAC in passing yards both seasons, he’s also been atop the interception list both years as well.

To say he’s turnover prone may be putting it mildly. When it rains, it pours. The biggest impediment Newton faces as he has his sights set on the NFL is trimming the turnovers and providing more consistency from play to play. The highs are exceptionally high and the lows are alarmingly low. He can go from sticking in the pocket and making a big-time throw one play to staring down his man and telegraphing an interception on the next.

Luckily for Newton and the Bison, he’s a spectacular athlete with the playmaking ability and talent to lead an explosive offense; as he’s proven capable at times halfway through his college career. It feels as if Newton is on the brink of being considered a legitimate NFL prospect. Before that happens, however, it’s imperative he flashes more stability in his play. That’s what I’m looking for this year and ultimately could decide whether he starts picking up some hype headed into his senior year.

2021 NFL Draft outlook

There’s a lot that needs to happen before we start talking about Caylin as a legitimate NFL prospect. However, much can change in a two-year span. Just look at Cam for example. In 2009 he was the quarterback of Blinn College. Two years later he was a National Champion, Heisman Trophy winner, and #1 overall pick. Not to keep comparing the two as Caylin is his own man and deserves to be treated as such. However, it just goes to show how far one can truly go.

The younger Newton has a dazzling skillset which should at the very least warrant an invite to camp as an undrafted free agent. Even then, there’s still hope he can become the first HBCU signal-caller drafted since the late Steve McNair in 1995.

With two years of starting experience and another two to go, there’s no knowing how much further Newton can progress in that span. He’s flashed next-level traits and has dominated his level of competition. It all comes down to better overall execution with improved ball security. Caylin Newton presents a ton of potential and doesn’t look to follow in his older brother’s footsteps, but instead create his own legacy.

Jonathan Valencia is an AFC South and HBCU football writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter @JonValenciaPFN.

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