AS COLBY Cameron opens the door to Wofford’s Student Life Building, he sees somebody walking several yards behind him. So he holds the door and waits.
You don’t have to do that, I tell him. You’re a star.
“I’m not a star,” Cameron says.
Cameron is Carolina’s fourth-team quarterback.
“You grow up your whole life watching the NFL and now you’re actually here,” says Cameron, a rookie who grew up in Southern California and played at Louisiana Tech. “I think it’s a pretty big deal no matter if you’re first string or fourth string.”
The difference between being first team and fourth team is vast. Fans scream for starting quarterback Cam Newton’s autograph when he walks off the field. Cameron doesn’t hear many fans scream and when he does they usually say, “No. 16, can we have your autograph?”
Newton does an interview in the Student Life Center and 20 members of the media encompass him. Fifteen yards away Cameron talks. He gets one of us.
The Panthers run a 9-on-7 drill and Newton gets his repetitions, and then Derek Anderson and then Jimmy Clausen. When it’s Cameron’s turn, the drill ends.
“Obviously, you get less reps but still every day you come in and try to work and learn something,” he says.
At Louisiana Tech last season, Cameron broke Russell Wilson’s NCAA record for passes thrown without an interception (379). Cameron threw 428 without an interception last season and 444 in his career. He won the Sammy Baugh Award last season as college football’s best passer. (Wilson, the former N.C. State quarterback, set the previous record as a senior at Wisconsin.)
Despite the limited reps, Cameron is a natural. As he stands on Newton’s left during mini-camp, Newton sticks his arm in the air and points to the names on the back of their jerseys: “Cameron Newton.”
Cameron plays, too. Joe Adams runs a corner route at practice last week and Cameron hits him with a pretty pass in the left corner of the end zone.
Fourth-team quarterbacks can become starters. One of them has thrown for more yards than any player in Panthers history.
Undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Jake Delhomme played for New Orleans from 1997-2002. He
played in six games in five seasons in New Orleans and started two. Yet the Panthers and Dallas Cowboys saw enough to court him in 2003. He signed with Carolina and played 91 games.