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ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia has a stout collection of tight ends with Orson Charles, Aron White and Bruce Figgins, but what if Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton were on that list as well?

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt admitted Tuesday that they looked at Newton when he played for Westlake High in Atlanta, but only as a tight end. Newton was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 28 overall prospect and the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback (behind Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor) in the 2007 signing class.

Newton signed with Florida and backed up Tim Tebow in '07 before redshirting in '08 and playing last season at Blinn College in Texas.

"A lot of it had to do with what we like to do offensively - more of a fit than any type of disrespect to his ability to play quarterback," Richt said. "He's proven to be pretty darn good."

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton leads the nation with 35 touchdowns, which he has attained through 19 passes, 15 rushes and one reception. There are 71 FBS teams that don't have 35 touchdowns.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the '08 class out of Tampa's Plant High. Murray committed to the Bulldogs over the Gators, who had Tebow, Newton and John Brantley on their roster, but he said that depth chart didn't factor into his choice.

"Going through the whole recruiting process, someone told me one time, and it might have been my dad, that you can't worry about who's in front of you but who's behind you," Murray said. "If the guy behind you beats you out, then you're pretty much done."

What might have been

Had the Bulldogs defeated Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 30, they could have won the SEC East this weekend with a Gators victory over South Carolina, which lost last week to Arkansas. Had Georgia defeated the Gators and Florida won this week, Georgia's outcome at Auburn would have been irrelevant in deciding the East.

"It would have been a wonderful story, but it's not," Richt said. "When the East kind of backed up to us a little bit, you could kind of check out all the scenarios and know the deal. I knew that Florida game was key."

Not much changes

Georgia sophomore cornerback Sanders Commings said linebackers will spend more time than the secondary adjusting to Newton's running ability.

"The only time we'll come off the receivers and worry about Cam is when he crosses the line of scrimmage," Commings said. "If we come up, he'll throw it over our heads, and we would rather him run for a couple of yards than throw it over our heads for 100 yards."

Commings said he will match up mostly with Darvin Adams, who leads the Tigers with 36 catches for 633 yards and five touchdowns.

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs are 4-2 in road games against top-10 teams under Richt, including a 2006 win at No. 5 Auburn and last year's win at No. 7 Georgia Tech. ... Auburn is the only team nationally with four wins against teams currently in the Associated Press top 25 (LSU has three and nobody else has more than two). ... Richt on freshman walk-on quarterback Parker Welch, who is playing the role of Newton in practice: "One of the best similarities I can say he has to Cam is that he wears No. 2 this week."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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