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Newton, Peterson highlight awards night

In all the excitement of Florida's Chas Henry winning the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top punter, you may have missed that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won the Maxwell Award for the best all-around player.

Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Either way, despite Auburn having had two Heisman winners in school history, Bo Jackson in 1985 and Pat Sullivan in 1971, it had never had a player win the Maxwell Award, an award that dates back to 1937.

History won’t be on Newton’s side, however, when the Heisman Trophy is awarded Saturday night. Of the past 10 players to win the Maxwell Award, only one has gone on to win the Heisman Trophy in the same season. That was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2007.

Before Tebow, you have to go all the way back to 1999, when Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne won both the Maxwell and the Heisman in the same season.

That being said, Newton remains a heavy favorite to hoist the Heisman on Saturday, thanks to his dual-threat ability.

Cam Newton on Throws of 20+ Yards
This Season

There’s no doubting Newton’s running ability. Even as a quarterback, he led all FBS players in rushes of at least 15 yards this season with 29. Hawaii’s Alex Green was second with 27.

However, Newton has become more adept at throwing the deep ball as the season's gone on. In the first eight games of the season, Newton completed just 34.5 percent of passes thrown at least 20 yards with five interceptions. In the last eight games of the season, he completed two-thirds of his throws of at least 20 yards, and didn’t throw a single pick.

Also cashing in on the hardware Thursday night was LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. He won both the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back and the Chuck Bednarik Award for best overall defensive player.

He’s the first defensive back to win the Bednarik Award since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997. Woodson also went on to win the Heisman, the only player to play primarily on defense and win the award.

Peterson became LSU’s first Bednarik Trophy winner, and the first SEC player to win it since Georgia’s David Pollack won the award in 2004.

No word if either of these players has bought stock in a trophy polish company.