HOOVER, Ala. — Two years removed from his time in Gainesville, Cameron Newton is getting a second chance at being a starting quarterback in the SEC.
Newton, who left the Gator program in 2008 in the midst of legal trouble, begins fall practice as the starter at Auburn, having excelled at junior college one season, then impressed Tiger coaches.
"He's done everything we've asked him to do, both on and off the field," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Friday at SEC media days. "You can just see Cameron, physically, when he walks in the door you know he's a very athletic, very talented young man."
Now a redshirt junior, Newton joined UF in 2007 and was the backup as a freshman, playing five games. After his arrest on suspicion of stealing a laptop from a fellow student, the 6-foot-6 Newton transferred to Blinn (Texas) College where he became a junior college All-American. He led the Buccaneers to the national JUCO title in 2009.
"Cam Newton is extremely hard-working," OL Lee Ziemba said. "The neat thing about summer is that we get Saturday and Sunday off, and yet, I'll drive by on a Saturday and see him dragging receivers onto the field, even in the rain, throwing into the net or working routes. It'll be exciting to see him in the fall."
TEN GATORS ALL-SEC: The SEC's preseason all-conference team includes 10 Florida players, while defending national champion Alabama had a league-high 12 players selected to the team, chosen by media attending SEC media days this week.
The Gators had three first-team selections, OL Mike Pouncey, LB Brandon Hicks and DB Ahmad Black. OLs Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert, DBs Justin Trattou, Janoris Jenkins and Will Hill, P Chas Henry and KR Chris Rainey were all second-team selections.
GULF TOUR: LSU coach Les Miles and Alabama coach Nick Saban each recently took time to tour the gulf area affected by the BP oil spill.
"I was a football coach going along for the ride," Miles said. "I really got twice the education that I ever could have imagined. I saw beautiful wetlands that I didn't know existed until I got in a Blackhawk helicopter and flew over top of it. I realized that the Louisiana Coast Guard and our local politicians are fighting feverishly to protect it.
" … The people of Louisiana … I can't tell you how proud I've been in the short time that I've been there to see how this state handles difficulty."
MORE ON AGENTS: Chizik and Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said the onus isn't just on agents to follow the rules.
"A lot of this has got to go back to the young guy," said Chizik, a Clearwater native. "He's got to have an allegiance to his school. He's got to have an allegiance to his teammates. He's got to have an allegiance to his coaches and to his university."
It was a slightly different message from the previous two days, when SEC coaches were on the attack against unscrupulous sports agents.
"At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of the player to not take (enticements)," Dooley said. "And I don't know any other way to put it."
Information from Times wires was used in this report.
The SEC media's predicted order of finish, with votes in parentheses:
3. South Carolina
5. Miss. State
SEC champion: Alabama (143), Florida (17), Auburn (7), Arkansas (3), Ole Miss (2), Georgia (2), LSU (1), South Carolina (1), Kentucky (1)
Preseason All-SEC first team
Chosen by media
QB — Ryan Mallet, Arkansas
RB — Mark Ingram, Alabama
RB — Trent Richardson, Alabama
WR — A.J. Green, Georgia
WR — Julio Jones, Alabama
TE — D.J. Williams, Arkansas
OL — Lee Ziemba, Auburn
OL — Barrett Jones, Alabama
OL — Clint Boling, Georgia
OL — James Carpenter, Alabama
C — Mike Pouncey, Florida
DL — Marcell Dareus, Alabama
DL — Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss
DL — Cliff Matthews, S.C.
LB — Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
LB — Kelvin Sheppard, LSU
LB — Josh Bynes, Auburn
LB — Brandon Hicks, Florida
DB — Mark Barron, Alabama
DB — Patrick Peterson, LSU
DB — Ahmad Black, Florida
DB — Stephon Gilmore, S.C.
PK — Blair Walsh, Georgia
P — Drew Butler, Georgia
RS — Derrick Locke, Kentucky
AP — Randall Cobb, Kentucky