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Howard QB Caylin Newton won’t play Saturday, may redshirt

Source says he’s ‘weighing his options about his future’

5:07 PMCaylin Newton arrived at Howard University as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s little brother, but he quickly established his own identity in leading the Bison to the biggest point-spread upset in the history of college football.

Now it appears the Caylin Newton era at Howard might be over.

Quarterback Newton, according to a source, “is weighing his options about his future” after informing the university Friday that he would not be playing in Saturday’s home game against Bethune-Cookman. That the decision comes after four games — which is the maximum number of games a college football player can participate in and still qualify for a redshirt season — indicates the strong possibility that Newton won’t play again this season.

“He hasn’t officially made up his mind yet,” the source said of Newton. “This has caught everyone by surprise. All we know is that he’s not playing this weekend.”

The Undefeated reached out to Howard University athletic director Kery Davis, who said he didn’t know anything other than the fact that Newton wasn’t playing Saturday. Derek Bryant, the school’s assistant athletic director for media relations and sports information, said he didn’t know anything about the news and that Ron Prince, Howard’s football coach, was unavailable.

Howard is 1-3 going into Saturday’s game, coming off a 24-9 win at Delaware State during which Newton completed 21 of 35 passes, including two touchdowns, in what was his best game of the season. But the three losses this season have been one-sided, including the opening-game blowout at Maryland (79-0) and a loss against Hampton (41-20) in the Chicago Football Classic two weeks ago.

Newton entered this season as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) preseason Player of the Year after a sophomore season in which he totaled 3,133 yards (2,629 passing and 504 rushing) and 26 touchdowns and was named the MEAC’s Offensive Player of the Year.

His career at Howard began with great promise in 2017 after Newton rushed for 190 yards and passed for 140 while accounting for three touchdowns in a season-opening 43-40 win over UNLV. The Bison entered that game as a 45-point underdog, which made that game the biggest point-spread upset in college football history.

With Newton winning the MEAC Rookie of the Year Award, that Howard team finished the season with a 7-4 record. Even as Newton continued to shine as a sophomore, Howard won only four games last season.

Newton, if he decides to redshirt, will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Reaction on campus was mixed Friday afternoon. Michael Burgess, a junior journalism major, agrees with Newton’s move.

“Caylin isn’t going to be starting tomorrow, so it doesn’t surprise me. He wants to win, but more importantly, he wants to play, so redshirting now means he still gets to keep his year of eligibility since he hasn’t played in more than the necessary number of games for Howard,” said Burgess. “Since he’s redshirting, wherever he transfers to, he will be eligible to play immediately instead of having to sit out a year. I have no choice but to agree with him.”

Sheila Brown is a junior TV and film major who attended Grady High School in Atlanta with Newton.

“Since Caylin is a junior now, I am a bit surprised that he’s planning to leave, if it is true. I’m not sure what his exact plans are, but if he still wants to play football at another school, it can be tough, considering the NCAA’s rules on athletes transferring,” said Brown. “He is a student-athlete, but being a student comes first. It seems as if now he’s following the path that he thinks is best for him.”

“If it’s true, that’s crazy,” said Cameron Franklin, a senior music business major and member of the marching band. “I’ve known him since high school since we played against him. He’s very talented, but he shouldn’t just stop. He’s not playing well, just like his brother isn’t performing well, but at the end of the day, it’s football.”