There hadn’t been a quarterback commit to Kentucky with as much hype as Morgan Newton since Tim Couch. Newton came out of Carmel Indiana as a four star prospect, a Parade All American and the sixth ranked quarterback in his class. The buzz surrounding him was deafening and the expectations were sky high.
The buzz got even louder when he came in as a freshman in relief for the injured starter Mike Hartline in 2009. That year, Newton started eight games and went 5-3. Along the way he helped knock off Auburn on the road and Georgia at Commonwealth Stadium. He lost to the Clemson Tigers in the Music City Bowl, but it didn’t matter; the fans liked what they saw. He ended with a 109.7 quarterback rating, he completed 55.6% of he passes, he threw six touchdowns and three interceptions.
The fan base was livid when Mike Hartline was named starter for the 2010 season and Morgan Newton sat on the bench for most of the way. Fans were clamoring for more Morgan and wanted to see how much he had improved from his freshman season. Hartline guided the ‘Cats to 6-6 and to the BBVA Compass Bowl. But, before the game, Hartline was arrested for an altercation he had with a female and disturbing the peace. He was suspended for the bowl game and Newton was named the starter against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Newton completed 58.3% of his passes but he didn’t through a single touchdown pass and never seemed to be in sync with the team. The Wildcats loss in embarrassing fashion to a coach-less and woeful Big East team. But, Newton was now the starter and hopes were high that he would return to his freshman winning ways for his junior season.
And then the wheels came off.