There was never really any doubt—if Jackie Newton’s son Cameron was going to go back to school, he was going to go back to Auburn. And he was going back to school—he promised.
“I guess it was right after he committed to go into the pros,” Newton says. “We were talking and it was just kind of ‘given the opportunity, the first chance you get, go back and get your degree.'”
The first chance came in January, after finishing his sophomore season with the Carolina Panthers. Newton says she “was so happy to hear hear it,” but she wasn’t expecting it.
“His father and I were talking and next thing you know, he (Cameron) came over and said he was enrolling in school”—that is, he was re-enrolling at Auburn, inevitable “circus” notwithstanding.
“In my heart of hearts, I knew Auburn would be OK, it’d be safe, they’ll embrace him better knowing his situation,” Newton says. “The one thing I’ve come to realize is that the Auburn Family is a very protective family. I feel like they’ve embraced Cameron at the next level. He’s still part of the Auburn Family, he just needed to complete things.”
Had Cameron considered another school, Newton says her son “would have probably started over, it would have been more complicated to get things done.”
“At Auburn, people already know Cameron,” she says. “He knows the school. That’s where he’s experienced his greatest moments on the field and off the field.”
But Newton says her son is having to work for his greatest moments in the classroom as hard as anyone else.
“You know, I’m a college graduate (Savannah State University), and I wouldn’t necessarily say college is easy,” Newton says. “You have to study. You go to college to better yourself and empower yourself and just educate yourself to move on to bigger and better things. So it has been easier (for Cameron) in a sense because of the location. But he’s just like a normal student. He has to study, he has to be committed and just buckle down to stay focused on the classroom issues.”
If he does, if he earns his sociology degree—Newton says he has one more semester—will he walk to receive his diploma?
“I have no idea, that would be Cameron’s decision,” she says. “Because of other contractual commitments that he has it might not be feasible, but it might be.”
If it is, and if he does, the applause will obviously be the loudest and longest ever heard at an Auburn commencement ceremony—you know it, I know it, Jackie knows it. That’s why she’s so happy he’s back—at Auburn.
“I knew that the Auburn Family would be proud of him for coming back to finish what he started.”
Photo: Sports Illustrated.
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