Up until this week, Texas A&M super freshman Johnny Manziel has let his play do the talking, dodging cameras and microphones with as much ease as he dodged SEC defenders all season long.
The decision to keep the 19 year old shielded from the media was not made by Johnny Football himself, nor Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin has a rule about letting freshman speak to the media; they don’t. But in the midst of a super tight Heisman Trophy race it is Manziel, a redshirt freshman, who can no longer be hidden from the spotlight.
After sitting out last year, Manziel has burst onto the scene this season accounting for over 4,600 yards of total offense. He’s also tallied 43 total touchdowns, and he had his signature moment when he led Texas A&M to a victory over then number one Alabama on the road. Manziel says he didn’t chance anything about his approach in preparation for that game.
A four sport star, Johnny Football didn’t focus solely on pigskin until he graduated from Tivy High School in 2011. Manziel had offers to play quarterback at Oregon and Stanford in addition to several other Division 1 schools, but chose to stay in the Lone Star State instead. The decision has certainly panned out and Manziel says he credits his coaches for modifying their schemes to fit his skill set.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t being shortsided with his homegrown talent either. Sumlin says Manziel will be the unquestioned leader on this team for years to come.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o are among the other Heisman hopefuls who are expected to make the trip to New York but neither of them represent a prototypical Heisman winner. If Manziel were claim the award, he would be the first freshman to ever win the Heisman and only the second Aggie ever to do so (John David Crow, 1957). Personally, Manziel says, winning the Heisman would be a dream come true.
Johnny Football will turn 20 two days before the Heisman is presented, but the work isn’t over for the Aggies just yet. Sitting at 10-2, ESPN projects Texas A&M to play in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day.