Caylin Newton leading a football revival at Howard

Former Grady High quarterback Caylin Newton is leading a football revival at Howard University. Newton led the Bison to a victory over a FBS school UNLV and has them in contention for the MEAC title and a trip to the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Former Grady High standout Caylin Newton, the younger brother of Cam Newton, is leading a football revival at Howard.

He has the Bison off to a 4-3 start and in contention to play in the Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 16.

The freshman has thrown for 1,549 yards and nine touchdowns. On the ground, he’s rushed for 542 yards on 103 carries and seven touchdowns.

Newton was named to the Jerry Rice Award watch list Thursday. The award goes to the top FCS freshmen.

“Caylin has been a guy that obviously comes with all of the pedigree,” Howard coach Mike London said. “He’s a humble kid. He’s a fast learner. He’s very tough. He’s very competitive.

“There are lot of things that he has going for him that our team values. It’s a level of toughness and a quiet leadership that he has, that really has helped keep us in games and then in the fourth quarter, it’s won games for us.”

In his first game, Newton led the Bison to a victory over UNLV, an FBS school, in one of the bigger upsets in NCAA history. The Bison were 47-point underdogs.

“I’m very proud of the team and the direction that we are headed in and the opportunities that are going to be presented as the season goes on,” London said.

With the win over UNLV, the Bison served notice that they were moving in a winning direction.

“I understand that it was a huge win, but our goal was to win the game,” Newton said. “It wasn’t impossible. It was possible and we made it happen.”

Newton, unlike his famous brother, wasn’t heavily recruited. He sought to attend Howard in part because of its world-renown law school.

“Coming to Howard, you have just as much opportunity as far as education and athletics,” Newton said. “I hope they realize that back in (Atlanta). If they come to Howard and get a quality education and make HU alumni proud.”

On Saturday, Newton was at his best in a 39-14 victory over Morgan State.

The Bison amassed 387 yards in total offense as he had a career-high four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing.

“Caylin deserves everything he’s getting,” Cam Newton said through a Panthers’ spokesperson. “He has worked extremely hard for this opportunity and he is making the most of it – which was expected. I never doubted who he could be as a quarterback, he has heart and that “it” factor that you look for – people follow him. I try not to say too much to him, just do your job and let everything fall into place. I’m happy for him; it’s just a real testament to hard work.”

Howard last had a winning season (7-4) in 2012. The Bison went to the playoffs under former NFL standout Steve Wilson in 1993 and played Marshall in the NCAA playoffs. In 1996, they played Southern in the Heritage Bowl.

The program has not been a contender in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference since.

“When I started in September of 2015, my very first week we played Boston College in football and we ended up losing that game 76-0,” athletic director Kerry Davis said. “I said to myself at the time, we are not prepared to play these type of games under these type of conditions. Meaning, without the proper preparation, without the proper organization.”

Things have turned around quickly with the addition of Newton and London, who won a national title at Richmond before a stint at Virginia.

“The UNLV game, I won’t call it a culmination, but it was a huge indicator of how far we’ve come as a program in just two short years to losing to a FBS school 76-0 and then having a victory over an FBS school two short years later,” Davis said.

Newton kind of fell in Howard’s lap.

“Caylin came in with a mindset from Day 1 that he was going to be a difference-maker in this program,” Davis said. “He chose us more than any other athlete since I’ve been here. He really chose us. We weren’t even heavily recruiting him.

“People said to him, ‘Howard’s not a football school.’ Caylin said, ‘it will be now.’ He’s been true to his word.”

London, who has family in Riverdale and College Park, and hopes that Newton’s success will help with recruiting in Georgia.

“We have two coaches (recruiting) Atlanta,” London said. “Actually, my grandmother, God rest her soul, and I’ve got three aunts living in Riverdale and College Park. Georgia is a second home to me.

“Our goals are to compete for the championship. That’s why you are in it. Howard is the place where you can attract some of the best and brightest students. Recruiting for us has gone excellent. It’s gone really well.”

The Bison are set to play South Carolina State during their homecoming game Saturday.

“We are nobody’s dinner,” Newton said. “Put the ball anywhere, and we’ll play.”