CHARLOTTE – Cam Newton takes a vested interest in the kids that join his Atlanta based 7v7 all-star team.
And it was only a matter of time before one (or two) of those players wound up becoming a teammate of Newton's in Carolina.
Seventh-round wide receiver Terry Godwin and undrafted running back Elijah Holyfield, two University of Georgia products, were once Cam Newton all-stars. Now they share a locker room with the 30-year-old franchise quarterback.
"It really hit home. It really hit home the fact that (I've known) these kids since they were 17 years old," Newton said. "And now being on the same team with them, it's just a surreal moment.
"I know if I have any issues with Terry I can call his momma. I know if I have any issues with Elijah I can call his daddy. You know that I'm saying? It's also reciprocated in them knowing they're in good hands."
Godwin remembers the first practice with Cam's 7v7 squad like it was yesterday.
"We got into the locker room and his dad, Cecil, was talking to us. And I was like, 'Man, I thought Cam was going to be here,'" Godwin said. "Then all the sudden you hear this loud voice coming down the hallway and this big man walks in the room and it's him! He was always full of energy and ready to get after it."
"It's pretty crazy," Holyfield added. "You never think about stuff like that when he's coaching you – that I could play on his NFL team one day. And here it is."
Godwin and Holyfield, like all the kids on the 7v7 team, were in awe of Newton.
But things have changed. This is the NFL. This is a production-based business. Newton wants the best for Godwin and Holyfield, who will have to scratch and claw for every opportunity, and that means they need to believe they belong here.
"Cam called me after I was drafted and we both couldn't believe it," Godwin said. "It never crossed my mind that me and this guy could one day be on the same team and I could be catching passes from Cam Newton.
"He congratulated me, but he told me he was going to push me when I got up there. He said, 'There's no more looking up to me. We're teammates now.'"
View photos from the afternoon practice during Rookie Minicamp.