NEW YORK — Cam Newton hugged his mother and didn’t want to let go after he won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night.
The Auburn quarterback found both celebration and security in the arms of Jackie Newton after a season of on-the-field highs that has included leading the Tigers to BCS Championship Game and off-the field lows from an NCAA investigation into his recruitment by Mississippi State.
“It’s been hard for me, but it’s been extremely hard for her just to see what her son has been through,” Newton said. “I just wanted to hug her the whole night, just to make her feel at ease. Letting her know that it’s over for this particular moment of our lives.”
The usually smooth Newton choked up after thanking his mother and father.
Newton, Auburn’s third Heisman Trophy winner, ended his speech with a “War Eagle.”
It was not a night of drama. It was a coronation.
“I feel like I’m in a dream right now,” Newton said.
(Video: Cam Newton’s press conference after winning the Heisman.)
Newton led the balloting in all six regions. He was left off 105 ballots, but still had the sixth-highest point total in Heisman voting history.
Newton was first on 729 ballots, or 93 percent of all ballots in which he received votes. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was second with 78 first-place votes.
A boisterous crowd estimated at 1,000 formed a traditional Tiger Walk to cheer Newton as he went into the Best Buy Theatre for the ceremony. Newton flashed his patented smile to the delight of the faithful.
“A Tiger Walk of that magnitude just put a joy in my heart,” Newton said.
Newton joined fellow Auburn Heisman winners in quarterback Pat Sullivan, who won it in 1971; and running back Bo Jackson, who won it in 1985. Jackson and Sullivan sat side-by-side at the ceremony watching the newest member of the select Auburn fraternity.
“I just think Auburn deserves that. It’s fun. It’s exciting,” said Tigers coach Gene Chizik.
Newton’s statistics and remarkable runs left fans shaking their heads in disbelief and were unmatched in the SEC this year. But stories that alleged Newton had been shopped to Mississippi State in a pay-for-play scheme concocted by his father, Cecil Newton, cast a shadow over the final month of the regular season.
The NCAA found that Cecil Newton had asked MSU for money in order to sign his son, but the NCAA has found no wrongdoing involving Auburn or the quarterback. Chizik was quick to defend Newton on Saturday.
After the ceremony, Newton was asked if his brush with the NCAA would ever cause him to have to return the Heisman, like Southern California’s