Johnny Manziel a Heisman underdog but real debate's his NFL decision

December 13 [Fri], 2013, 15:59

His impact on the college game can be summarized pretty simply. The man is known simply as Johnny Football. And it just seems for the last 12 months everywhere you turned, he was doing something that raised eyebrows.

The tweets, the parties, the scandals.

The touchdown passes, the scrambling, the huge statistics.

RELATED: Reasons why Johnny Manziel's ready for NFL

So it's only appropriate that in his likely final weeks as a collegiate athlete, Johnny Manziel have another oops yet interesting moment. As the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner the Texas A&M quarterback now has a vote for life.

Who did he vote for?

"I'm going to follow the Heisman Trust and kind of keep that quiet,'' Manziel said. "But I think there might be a point and time where I'll reveal my votes.''

Next question?

Are you allowed to vote for yourself?

"I am allowed to vote for myself,'' he said. "But I did not vote for myself in first or second place.''

Ah, Johnny Football, you just can't help yourself can you?

Third is where he very well could end up this time around with FSU's Jameis Winston the front runner to claim the award. But Manziel remains first, when it comes to keeping college followers buzzing.

Johnny Manziel a Heisman underdog but real debate's his NFL decision

Now the question, after the Heisman ceremony on Saturday and his bowl game (the Aggies face Duke in the Chick-Fil-a-Bowl on Dec. 31) will be depart for pro football.

"You don't want to go be unprepared for the National Football League or leave two years on the table,'' Manziel said. "You don't want to do that. So in the grand scheme of things it all comes down to making the best decision for you. Whether you're ready, whether teams are quarterback-needy, whatever it may be. You look at all your factors. This is exactly what I said last year and people made a big deal about how I was committed to leaving. It wasn't anything like that.

"I feel like if you're going to be smart with the opportunity at hand you have to look at all the things, you have to exhaust all your options. And you have to make the best decision what's best for you from there. It wasn't anything about me wanting to leave or wanting to get out of town or just be two and done or anything like that. But if you have that opportunity and it's a dream of yours, you have to look at it all and take it all in stride.''

But Manziel sounds like he's already made his decision and just needs those close to him to back it.

"In my mind, I feel like I'm playing for the most part at a really high level of football,'' Manziel said. "I'm putting the ball where I want it to be and I'm throwing it with a lot of velocity. So in my mind, I think I am (ready for the NFL).''

If Manziel claims the Heisman or returns next season and gets a second he would match Ohio State's Archie Griffin as the only repeat winner. Regardless of his antics, Manziel seems to appreciate what the award means in the long haul.

"Even as much as winning it, just going to the Heisman and being around those people and all the activities and all the things you get to do, and to see how close the brotherhood of the past winners are _ and seeing the whole thing in general is an awesome experience,'' he said. "And to be a college football it's _ in the skill positions _ I know that's what you shoot for every year is to get to New York and be one of the best players in the country. And then to take it a step further and win it, it's a dream come true for anybody that's grown up playing Pop Warner football, playing middle school, high school football. So it's really a big deal.''

While Manziel was the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman and Winston could follow him on Saturday, he thinks it's just the beginning of the trend to younger winners that was started by Tim Tebow being the first sophomore to claim the award in 2007.

"You feel like athletes continue to get better and better as the years go on,'' Manziel said. "There are new things going on, whether it's coaches in high school going to these quarterback coaches and people just working really hard to come out and try and take over the starting jobs at schools early. You just have to give it up to some of these young guys whether it's Jameis or if it's Baker Mayfield at Texas Tech or some of the other freshmen around the country. You have to give it up to them for working hard to want to start at such a young age. It's impressive.''

Being a Heisman winner and the attention it brought surprised him.

"It was different to go from such a slow, small type of small town College Station status where everybody knows you and people run into you, and then to take that to a national level where you walk around Times Square and people are running into you and noticing you,'' Manziel said. "Just how big things boomed and spread out across the entire country, world, everything after that. It was nothing like I had expected.''

This year, the boom wasn't as loud as the season wound down and losses to LSU and Missouri plus injuries probably sidetracked Manziel's chances at a repeat.

He said the loss to Auburn knocked the wind out of Texas A&M's sails and drained the team's confidence. The Aggies are still a solid team but the magic seemed to fade.

"My job right now is to try and get that back to where it was and get the train back on the tracks where it was whenever we were playing Auburn or when we were playing Alabama,'' Manziel said of the upcoming bowl. "We have to get this win.''

Will it be his last as a college player? With Manziel, sometimes you just can't be sure. But if his college stop ends on New Year's it will be a historic one.

David Jones also writes for Florida Today.


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Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State: Winston threw for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns while completing 67.9% of his passes. Winston also added four touchdowns on the ground.

Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Tre Mason, running back, Auburn: Mason ran the ball 283 times for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Brett Davis, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Andre Williams, running back, Boston College: Williams carried the ball 329 times for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Jordan Lynch, quarterback, Northern Illinois: Lynch threw for 2,676 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 1,881 yards, a single-season record for a quarterback, and 22 touchdowns.

Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

AJ McCarron, quarterback, Alabama: McCarron threw for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns against just five interceptions while completing 67.6% of his passes.

Spruce Derden, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M: The reigning Heisman Trophy winner threw for 3,732 yards and 33 touchdowns. Manziel also rushed for 686 yards and eight scores.

Peter G. Aiken, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenLike this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:Replay1 of 6AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide6Photos

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