Georgia recruited Newton as a tight end

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ATHENS -- When Cam Newton was starring at an Atlanta-area high school, the Southeastern Conference school in his home state tried to recruit him.

The Georgia Bulldogs didn't see him as a quarterback, however.

Coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that Newton was recruited to play tight end, a position that Georgia felt the 6-foot-6, 250-pounder was better suited for in its offensive scheme.

Newton wound up at Florida as a backup to Tim Tebow, spent a year at a junior college in Texas, then returned to the SEC this season with Auburn. He's led the No. 2 Tigers (10-0, 6-0 SEC) into national championship contention and is considered the favorite for the Heisman Trophy heading into Saturday's game against the Bulldogs (5-5, 3-4).

"I remember him. He was a very talented guy, a guy we did take a look at," Richt said. "We actually had him pegged more as a tight end prospect. A lot of it had to do with what we like to do offensively. He was more of a fit at tight end for what we do. That's no disrespect to his ability to play quarterback. He's proven to be pretty darn good."

Newton leads the SEC with 1,146 yards rushing and has the nation's second-best pass efficiency rating. But his reputation has been tarnished in the past week by reports of an agent trying to shop his services for $200,000 and allegations of academic cheating while with the Gators.

When Newton was coming out of Westlake High School, Matthew Stafford had just completed his freshman year at Georgia. He went on to start for three seasons with the Bulldogs before he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions.

Aaron Murray, a redshirt freshman, is now Georgia's starting QB. He's had a solid debut but hasn't come close to the numbers put up by Auburn's star.

As for Newton's off-the-field issues, Murray said it's "definitely not the greatest thing to deal with. But he's a tremendous player and they have great coaches. I think they'll make sure he puts that aside and just focuses on this game."