Two of Auburn University’s athletic teams dramatically improved their performances by acquiring 21-year-old junior college transfers in 2010. And those two transfers were named Male and Female Alabama Athlete of the Year by the United States Sports Academy.
Cameron Newton, the Academy’s Alabama Male Athlete of the Year, is the quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in dominant fashion and was named Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, along with many other accolades.
Sprinter Sheniqua Ferguson was named Alabama Female Athlete of the Year after winning the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, becoming the second Auburn woman to win the 200 meters at the NCAA indoor meet, joining Kerron Stewart, who won the title in 2007.
Newton, who started his career at the University of Florida before transferring to Blinn (Texas) Junior College and leading them to a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship, transferred to Auburn this past year and took over a starting role for a team that was 8-5 in 2009 and 5-7 in 2008. In the 2010 regular season as a Tiger, he completed 67.89 percent of his passes for 2,254 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions, a passer rating of 185.57 (No. 2 in the nation). He carried the ball 228 times for 1,336 yards (111.33 average per game, No. 11 nationally). This led to a 13-0 season and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game against Oregon, which will take place in Glendale, Ariz. 10 January 2011.
Ferguson transferred from Southwest Missouri Junior College this past year and helped the Tigers improve from 41st in the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships to sixth in 2010. They were tied for 25th in the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships, and finished 12th in 2010. In the outdoor season, she placed sixth nationally in both the 100 and 200 meters and ran on the seventh-place team in the 4 x 100-meter relays. She was named SEC Female Runner of the Year after she won the SEC title in the 100 meters by clocking a season-best time of 11.19 seconds, which ranks fourth in Auburn history. In the 200 meters, she had a time of 23.09 in the finals, after posting a mark of 23.08 in the preliminaries, tying for fifth in school history. She helped the 4 x 100-meter relay team win its second straight SEC crown in that event, with a time of 43.38, the third best in school history. She earned the Commissioner’s Trophy as the high female point scorer at the meet.
The Alabama Athlete of the Year award is given to an athlete beyond the high school level who was either born in, is currently playing in, or has previously participated in sports at any level within the state of Alabama.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.