As Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton stood on the 50-yard line at Nation Ford High’s football field, providing commentary on a throwing competition in his foundation’s 7-on-7 tournament, a young man with strikingly similar features took his turn.
The contest was simple: Throw a football into two separate nets after eluding an invisible pass rush, and everybody on the team wins a pair of cleats.
Newton asked the player to state his name and school affiliation.
“Caylin,” the young quarterback said. “Grady High School.”
Caylin Newton, Cam Newton’s youngest brother, missed both nets.
It was important to Cecil Newton, Cam and Caylin’s father, that his youngest son, who will be a sophomore at the Atlanta school in the fall, be treated like anybody else.
“I don’t have a problem distancing myself from him out here,” Cecil Newton said. “I’ve been down that road before. It wouldn’t help him to be coddled or to feel entitled. He has to earn his stripes like every other tournament participant.”
Cam Newton, who is 10 years older than Caylin, agreed that it was special to have his brother compete in the tournament but that he was just like every other participant.
“I am wishing him just as much luck as every other team out here,” Cam Newton said. “He is as influential in my life as anybody else in my family and I am wishing him luck – but to remain unbiased I am wishing a lot of other kids the same amount of luck.”
Caylin’s team struggled Friday, losing its first five games heading into the late afternoon. This will be Caylin’s first season as the starting quarterback, and first-year coach Earthwind Moreland sees potential in the youngest Newton.
“He is maturing day by day,” Moreland said. “He’s making some young mistakes, but at the same time, I see him developing.”
After losing badly to host Fort Mill Nation Ford, Grady rebounded in his next game – with Caylin throwing three straight completions to open the game with a Grady touchdown. Caylin, who looks incredibly similar to his older brother with braces, was disappointed in his performance but believes his team will rebound in the double-elimination bracket on Saturday, when play begins at 9:30 a.m.
He says there isn’t any added pressure of having a brother who won the Heisman Trophy and plays in the NFL.
“I try not to think about it too much,” he said. “I am just another player out here trying to work for my team. My skill set is getting better.”
When asked if he sees similarities between himself and his older brother, he shrugged.
“I guess so,” he said. “I don’t know.”
One thing he does know: He’ll be treated like just another player while leading Grady High on Saturday. Spartanburg Dorman, host Nation Ford, Atlanta’s Mays High and Hough are the top seeds after Friday’s pool play.
But Caylin’s father noted that the equal treatment doesn’t extend off of the field.
“When the family is together at home, it’s all fun and games,” Cecil Newton said. “A lot of unwinding and sharing what is important to us. We are a no-nonsense family, but we like comedy movies and marshmallows and s’mores just like the everyday American family.”
One with a Heisman-trophy winning quarterback who plays in the NFL.