By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Howard University could be losing another all-American student- athlete with eligibility remaining. Sources close to the program tell the AFRO that junior quarterback Caylin Newton, the reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year, may have played his final game with the Bison.
Newton, who reportedly is on track to graduate in three years next spring, could sit out for the rest of the season and be eligible to transfer and play immediately next year if he doesn’t play for the remainder of the season. The national FCS player of the year candidate would be able to earn his undergraduate degree and play for two more seasons since NCAA rules don’t count seasons where football players don’t compete in more than four games against their eligibility.
Howard fell to 1-4 last weekend after losing to Bethune Cookman 37-29 without Newton dressing or being on the sidelines. The source, who spoke in confidence, said that Newton practiced with the team Monday through Thursday last week, but then told his teammates unexpectedly on Friday that he would not be playing in Saturday’s game.
The irony was that Newton was coming off his best game of the season as the Bison defeated Delaware St. a week earlier. First year head coach Ron Prince didn’t speak on the matter and athletic director Kery Davis was unaware of the situation until gameday.
Newton invigorated the Howard program when he put on shoulder pads and stepped under center in his first game. He led the Bison to a 43-40 victory over UNLV to open the 2017 season after being listed as a 43 point underdog in what was the biggest upset in college football history under previous head coach Mike London who resigned after last season to take the same job at William & Mary.
Newton immediately became the face of the program and went on to earn MEAC Rookie of the Year honors after returning the football program to prominence following a dubious time of probation and coaching changes. He was the transcendent player in a 7-4 season that brought back visions of their championship seasons during the 80s and 90s.
However, the dose of Camelot was short lived. The Bison fell to 4-7 last year despite Newton’s Player of the Year season in 2018. When London departed there seemed to have been a disconnect between he and the new coaching staff. There have been rumors Newton was uncomfortable with new head coach Ron Prince’s sometimes profane intensity and that frustration with losing has led to the decision to transfer which appears imminent.
If Newton has played his final game at Howard it would mark the second time in less than a calendar year that a MEAC Player of the Year would be transferring from the university. Basketball player R.J. Cole left Howard to play for the University of Connecticut with another year of eligibility remaining.
Meanwhile, Wise High School graduate and true freshman Quinton WIlliams appears to be the next man up and displayed flashes of brilliance in the loss to the Wildcats. He finished the game 21 of 35 for 175 yards and one touchdown in his first college start without the benefit of a full practice week with the first team.
This was not the kind of headline Howard was expecting leading to Saturday’s game vs. Harvard.