NEW YORK — Auburn's Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday the same way he played all season: running away from the competition.
The prohibitive favorite, the 6-foot-6 junior quarterback who led the Tigers to a 13-0 record, SEC championship and berth in the BCS national title game officially claimed college football's highest individual honor.
"It's a dream come true for me, something every child has a dream that plays the sport of football," Newton said, getting choked up during his acceptance speech. "I'm living testimony that anything is possible."
Newton was voted first on 729 of 926 ballots (78.7 percent), the third-highest percentage in the history of the award behind Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (2006) and Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward (1993).
He earned 2,263 points. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was second with 1,079, the 1,184-point difference the 11th largest in the history of the award. Oregon running back LaMichael James finished third with 916 and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore fourth with 635.
Newton didn't look surprised when his name was announced. A wide smile spread across his face, and he dropped his head.After exchanging hugs and handshakes with the other finalists, he shared a long embrace with his mother, Jackie.
But when he reached the podium, he had to steady himself.
"Oh my God," he whispered as he reached into his inside jacket pocket to pull out his speech. "Oh my God."
Newton joined quarterback Pat Sullivan (1971) and running back Bo Jackson (1985) as Auburn Heisman winners. The Tigers are the ninth school to have three or more winners.
"This is a phenomenal young man," coach Gene Chizik said. "He's different on the field, and he's different off the field. Everything he gets, he's worked for. And he deserves every bit of it."
Newton began his career at Florida in 2007 but left after two seasons. He spent 2009 at Blinn, a school in east Texas, and helped it win a junior college national title.
He signed with Auburn in December, becoming the fifth junior college transfer to win the award: Navy's Roger Staubach (1963), Southern Cal's O.J. Simpson (1968), Nebraska's Mike Rozier (1983) and Ward (1993).
"You have good ideas of what you'd love them to be," Chizik said. "But I can't say a year ago that I thought we'd be sitting here."
On the field and off, Newton has been the story of the season.
On it, he threw for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns and ran for 1,409 yards and 20 touchdowns. He is one of three players in NCAA history to throw and run for 20 touchdowns in a season, joining Florida's Tim Tebow (2007) and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick (2010). Newton also became the first player in SEC history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season.
Off it, the NCAA determined his father, Cecil, who did not attend the ceremony, tried to peddle him to Mississippi State for cash. But it cleared him to play before the SEC title game because it found no evidence that he or Auburn knew about the scheme. Cam Newton has denied any wrongdoing.
As a result of the scandal, Newton was left off 105 ballots. Of the voters who did include Newton, 95 percent of them had him first. Smith holds the record by getting 86 percent of the first-place votes.
Not an All-American
Perhaps as a result of his recruiting scandal, Heisman winner Cam Newton was not named to the Football Writers Association of America's All-America team released Saturday. Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore (fourth in the Heisman voting) won a vote of 12 media members. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Oregon running back LaMichael James (third in the Heisman voting) made the team as "designated offensive backs." The Associated Press All-America team will be announced Tuesday.