Sunday's big NFC championship game should be a doozy. For the first time two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks will face each other in the championship game. First let's look at the final year in each of the two Heisman Trophy winners' college years and then look at this seasons' performance and try and decide which one should come out ahead in game.. Usually Heisman Trophy winners are a bust in the NFL, a most recent winner comes to mind and that was that first round quarterback for the Cards, Matt Leinart.
Palmer who played for USC and was a five year red-shirt freshman and played for Coach Paul Hackett for the first two years of his college career and played his final two seasons for Coach Pete Carroll. Palmer finished the last college season of his amateur career with 309 completions in 489 attempts with a completion percentage of 63.2%. He had 3.942 passing yards and 33 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He broke the school record for most completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season while winning the Heisman in 2002. His career totals at USC were 72 passing TD's, 49 interceptions, 927 completions on 1.569 attempts with a total of 11,818 passing yards.Palmer also broke the PAC-10 records for completions, attempts and passing yards.
Palmer became the number 1 overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals. He learned the pro quarterback position in practice his rookie season as he took no snaps from center during that first year. Palmer is in his 13th season in the NFL and in his two previous appearances in the playoffs before the most recent one, Palmer has not fared well. But losing in the first round both times. Last year the Cardinals played the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs but both Palmer and his Backup were injured and they lost to Carolina. But this year could be the season that he finally breaks through but he has one more hurdle to jump over and that hurdle is Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Cam Newton was a highly recruited high school quarterback and he chose to attend the University of Florida. As a freshman in 2007 he won the backup job to starter Tim Tebow and played in 5 games going 5 for 10 passes for 40 yards and ran 16 times for 106 yards.The following year 2008, he was red-shirted with an ankle injury in the Gators opener against Hawaii. Then came the problems, in November Newton was arrested for buying stolen property after he purchased a stolen laptop computer which was found in his possession. After being suspended and the charges dropped after a court completed diversion program he withdrew from the University of Florida just 3 days before the Gators won the national championship.
Newton then transferred to a Junior college, Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. During the season with Blinn his team went on to win the NJCAA National Football Championship. Newton turned out to be the most high recruited quarterback from either high school or JC.As a result Newton chose to attend Auburn University.
In his initial season with Auburn in 2010 Newton finished with a national championship, the Heisman Trophy and many other honors and decided to forgo his senior year. His stats for the Tigers were 280 passing attempts, 185 pass completions, 2,908 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and had a 66.1% completion rate. His running was instrumental in many of Auburn's wins and during the season he had 285 rushing attempts and 1.586 rushing yards at a 5.6 yard average.
Cam Newton was selected the 1st overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. Newton signed a $22 million fully guaranteed 4 year contract with the Panthers. though his team went 6-10, he had an exceptional rookie and was named NFL Rookie of the Year and Pro bowl honors.
Newton has led the Panthers to the playoffs the last three seasons from 2013-2015 and losing in the first round in 2013, and the second round in 2014. Could this be their year? We will sure find out coming this Sunday. They have been on a roll winning 14 straight games before losing one. It may look this is their year to go all the way. The only thing standing in their way in the NFC is the Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer.