Ken Bjorge can’t wait to tackle Cam Newton.
Just over a year ago, Auburn University commissioned the 67-year-old Montana lawyer-turned-sculptor to produce bronze statues of Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan, who, at the time, were the school’s only Heisman Trophy winners.
A month ago — the same day he loaded the one and one-half times life size statues onto a moving van bound for Auburn — he received an order for one more: Cam Newton.
After Newton won the Heisman — and Auburn the national championship — Bjorge (pronounced Byor-gee) said he had a feeling that might happen.
“I started hoping I’d get a shot at another one. You just never know how these things are going to turn out.”
He speaks from experience: In 2005, the University of Texas asked Bjorge to create a statue of Texas great Earl Campbell, also a Heisman winner.
“And that was the year Texas won the national championship,” Bjorge laughs.
Bjorge says the Campbell statue is what actually brought him to Auburn’s attention.
“[Associate Auburn Athletic Director] Jeff Steele had taken a trip to Austin and saw the Earl Campbell statue and asked who made it,” Bjorge says. “That’s how they came to me.”
While similar in size to the Campbell statue, Bjorge says — or at least hints — that Auburn’s Heisman winners are shown not posed, but in action.
Sullivan’s statue is “more in what you would typically see a quarterback do,” he says. “Bo Jackson being a running back, he would be more in that sort of design.”
But what about dual-threat Newton? Bjorge won’t say.
“At this point I’m waiting to see get some exact measurements of Cam Newton to begin the process of developing the model.”
As for expressions, don’t expect to see Newton’s famous smile. Bjorge said Sullivan, Jackson, and Newton will all have “their game face on.”
As will John Heisman.
Included in the Newton order was a bust of the legendary coach the Heisman Trophy is named for; Bjorge says it’s nearly completed. Heisman coached the Tigers from 1895-1899. Auburn, which is in four-way tie for third in Heismans-per-school, is the only team Heisman coached to have also produced a Heisman Trophy winner.
“I’m not going to put a smiley face on on a guy like that (Heisman),” Bjorge says. “He was intense and he had a definite purpose in mind and I try to convey that by the demeanor and facial expressions… I try to do what best represents what football fans remember of that individual.”
Which means Bjorge might soon need a taller ladder — Cam Newton is the tallest person he’s ever been asked to render.
“Seems like my whole life I’ve been on scaffolding and ladders,” Bjorge laughs. “But Cam Newton is 6″6. That’s getting on up there.”
The Auburn statues will be placed on podiums outside the east entrance to Jordan-Hare Stadium and dedicated later this year.
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