Caylin Newton thrives under NFL tutelage, family tradition
There couldn’t be a high school football player under more NFL guidance than Caylin Newton, the quarterback for Grady High of Atlanta.
Newton’s coach, Earthwind Moreland, played on a New England Patriots Super Bowl team. Newton’s offensive coordinator, Terry Jones, also played in the NFL.
Newton’s older brother, Cecil Jr., played center in the league. And of course there’s Cam Newton, the reigning MVP from the Carolina Panthers. The patriarch, Cecil Sr., also spent time in NFL training camps.
‘’I’m pretty hard on him, but his hardest critics are his brothers and his dad,’’ Moreland said. “It’s not just Cam. Everybody sees Cam, but his daddy spent time in the NFL. His older brother did. That’s a lot to live up to when everybody has some kind of interest in the NFL. Now you come, you’re the last one. It’s what everybody expects of you, too.’’
Caylin accepts his fate with a gentle laugh and no regret.
‘’Pretty much everybody is tough,’’ he said. ‘’Nobody is soft in the Newton family.’’
Caylin Newton, the last of the Newton boys, is emerging as one of the state’s best dual-threat quarterbacks.
Now a senior, Caylin has thrown for 789 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 273 and three touchdowns in three games. Grady is 2-1 and ranked No. 10 in Class AAAAA entering its game Friday at Lithia Springs.
‘’It brings pressure, but it’s not like I’m being forced to play football,’’ Caylin said. “I love to do it. I’m blessed to have older siblings that have played in the league. I see mistakes before they happen because I’ve learned from Cam, Cecil and my Pops. They’re doing a great job guiding me.’’
Caylin welcomes Cam’s advice the most since the two are quarterbacks. Cam Newton was a local star high school player a decade ago at Westlake. They talk by phone or through FaceTime every week. Cam will attend games in person when he can.
‘’He tells me completions, completions, completions,’’ Caylin said. ‘’Get as many as you can so you can get the hot hand. You don’t want to go out and be wild.’’
Caylin does as he is told. He has completed 55 of 77 passes.
‘’That really helps talking before every game with the MVP of the league,’’ Caylin said. “Him telling me things simplifies it for me. Every defense that I thought was difficult, looking at it through his lens, it’s not. It’s just high school. Don’t make it too hard. That’s what he says.’’
Despite Caylin’s high school successes – he started games his freshman season – Caylin surprisingly is not yet a Division I recruit. He is only 5 feet 11 inches and 185 pounds. Cam Newton is 6-5. Cecil Newton Jr. was 315 pounds in his playing days. Caylin has offers from Savannah State and Hampton.
Moreland, a Grady alumnus who went through Georgia Southern to the NFL, expects offers to pick up once more schools get his senior tape.
‘’A lot of people are into this height thing,’’ Moreland said. “Most people want these big 6-3, 6-4 quarterbacks, and he’s just not that. But he has everything that you’d want in a quarterback. He has the moxie, the savvy. And he can lead a team.’’
It’s frustrating, Caylin admits.
‘’At times, it’s pretty difficult,’’ he said. “If I don’t have what they’re looking for, it’s not their fault. I can only get better. I’m going to go to a college where I feel appreciated and where coaches will give the opportunity to accomplish all my goals. If I’m not getting looks, that doesn’t mean I won’t.’’
Meanwhile, he’s got plenty left to accomplish in high school. Lithia Springs is the opening game in Region 6, and Grady is probably the team to beat. Grady has not won a region title since 2010 and only five in its nearly 70-year history.
‘’I plan on going far in football,’’ Caylin said. “It’s my passion. I’m not just playing for fame or money or family. I play for the love of what I do. I feel like if I lock in on that and perfect my craft, everything else will fall into place and I’ll go as far as I want.’’