It began with simply Johnny Manziel. It evolved into Johnny football, as Texas A&M found life in the SEC quite comfortable and exciting with their phenom quarterback. After becoming the first freshman to ever win the Heisman trophy, the nickname can probably evolve into Johnny Heisman.
Only the second Aggies player to win the most prestigious individual award in College Football (the first was John David Crow from 1957), Manziel wasn’t even sure he was going to A&M’s starting quarterback. He won the starting job about two weeks before the season began. He struggled in his first career game vs Florida and he had a very hard time later in the season against LSU, but the rest of the way was filled with brilliance.
Remember how amazing Cam Newton was in 2010? Manziel shattered those records, throwing for 3419 yards and running for 1181, scoring 19 touchdowns with his feet. He is now the first freshman and first SEC player to throw for over 3000 and run for over 1000 yards in a season. If he wasn’t on the Heisman radar for about half the season, the two wins and performances against Mississippi State (311 passing, 129 rushing) and Alabama (253 passing, 92 rushing), both on the road, there was no stopping the sensation from turning into a national object of interest.
This is for a guy who came out of spring practice as the backup, but went to work over the summer with a private quarterback coach, and took over the job when the season began. A&M finished the regular season 10-2, and end the season in an illustrious Cotton Bowl against their former Big 12 rivals, Oklahoma. Manziel has one more chance to put an impressive stamp on a season that was mostly highlighted by his running ability and even more, his improvizational instincts and skills.
Manziel finished well ahead of seniors Collin Klein and Manti Te’o, who was aiming to be the first ever purely defensive player to win the award. He finished with 1706 voting points; Manziel finished with 2029.
An award that used to go only to Seniors and maybe Juniors has evolved and adapted to the changing time. Adrian Peterson was the closest a Freshman has ever got to winning the award, finishing second behind Matt Leinart in 2004. In 2007, Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the award, and two players have followed since. Manziel isn’t a new breed of quarterback, but he has a certain combination of power and speed that makes you feel you haven’t really seen anything quite like him before, for A&M and anywhere else.
While people call the Heisman the most pretigious member club in sports, most of the members don’t go on to have succesful pro careers. Manziel still has time before he starts thinking about the NFL, and probably something to win with A&M. He’s already somewhat of a legend in College Station. Being more than a one-year wonder can make him a College Football legend, and not just because the records he broke on his first season.