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Johnny Football breaking the Heisman rules as a freshman

Johnny Manziel AP

It’s time to come clean.

I didn’t believe Texas A&M would come close to the kind of success it’s having in its inaugural SEC season, and I certainly wasn’t “all in” on Johnny Manziel as a legitimate Heisman candidate — at least not in the sense of the redshirt freshman bringing home the hardware in December.

Think about that for a minute as the shock of a 29-24 win for No. 15 A&M in Tuscaloosa over the top-rankeddefending BCS champions  begins to subside: a redshirt freshman — hell, a freshman of any classification — winning the Heisman.

Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Impossible even, because Manziel’s not Matt Barkley or Montee Ball. You know, guys who were supposed to be receiving first and second-place Heisman votes just a few months ago. Familiar names. Even West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had the Heisman wrapped up and shipped to Morgantown in September before the postal service realized the Big 12 was having it re-routed.

Manziel’s not an upperclassman who has time to build his lore, either, although the legend of “Johnny Football” is at a fever pitch at the moment. In fact, Manziel’s freshman status means no media interviews, per Kevin Sumlin’s coaching policy. Just about everything that’s supposed to play a role in college football’s most prestigious individual award, Manziel doesn’t have.

But he does have the most important metric. He’s got game.

The Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the most outstanding player in collegiate football. There are some fine candidates this year. Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, USC wide receiver Marqise LeeSouth Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein are just some of the names that should under serious consideration. Barring injury or a complete end-of-season meltdown, it’s impossible not to add Manziel’s name to that list after putting on the show he did against Alabama, effectively putting the SEC’s BCS championship game streak on the line in the process.

Manziel’s numbers against the Tide were exemplary (345 total yards and two touchdowns) and his season statistics are equally as impressive (2,527 passing yards, 1014 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns), but what held Manziel back from the likes of Klein and Barner were his struggles against Florida and LSU, two sound defenses in the SEC. To project that Manziel was going to somehow turn it around against Alabama was a stretch.

But Manziel did turn around. He turned around, evaded, ran into his own lineman and even fumbled the ball and recovered. And that was just on one touchdown pass to Ryan Swope to put the Aggies up 14-0 in the first quarter. Manziel is more than numbers. He’s theatre.

For that, he’ll get an invite to New York. Manziel may not win the Heisman, but he’ll get a lengthy look at becoming the first freshman to win the award. For all his showmanship, the one thing Johnny Football has showed the college football world is that there are no more rules for who qualifies as a Heisman candidate.

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42 Responses to “Johnny Football breaking the Heisman rules as a freshman”
  1. coreydemoss says: Nov 10, 2012 8:35 PM

    Manziel deserves consideration. I still think Adrian Peterson should have won the Heisman as a freshman, and I think the only reason he didn’t was because voters assumed he would have another shot at it.

    But injuries derailed that chance, so if a kid is the most exciting player in the country, that’s all that matters. Not how many years he’s been in school. And if there was ever a year for a freshman to win it, this is it. There isn’t any dominant candidate at this point in the season, and Manziel just put up the biggest marquee game of the year.

  2. thefiesty1 says: Nov 10, 2012 8:41 PM

    No freshman deserves any consideration for the Heisman. See what he does as a senior in a few years then give him his due.

  3. seabronco says: Nov 10, 2012 8:45 PM

    thefiesty1. You don’t have a brain. Don’t talk

  4. sssjim7 says: Nov 10, 2012 8:46 PM

    Yeah, he deserves consideration. So does Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and about 20 other players.

    So why does CFT have a weekly vote where we only get to pick among 6 players?

    I look at that each week and think to myself “What arrogance… they aren’t allowing comments, and they limit our voting choice to their narrow little list of players”

    I haven’t voted once all year in your poll. Expand it to 20 players and allow us to comment and I may reconsider.


  5. megatronspartan says: Nov 10, 2012 8:50 PM

    Freshman or not if a player is the best player in the country then he deserves to be in the conversation! Too many lose’s for A&M that they should have won .so I say Klein deserves it

  6. thebigtim2012 says: Nov 10, 2012 8:55 PM

    Until the little pussycats from clemson play a real schedule boyd or any little kitty cat won’t get consideration. In 2 weeks a real candidate Mr. Clowney is gonna feast on tiger meat

  7. tlmoon2112 says: Nov 10, 2012 8:55 PM

    There’s no reason for this kid to NOT be in the discussion. Does anyone really think A&M contends in the SEC without him?? I don’t. Compare him side by side with all the other QBa in the SEC and tell me who is having a better season then this kid. Hell he leads the SEC in rushing. Think about the running backs his team faced tonight, the one UGA has, Gillislee at UF, etc. and he’s leading the damn conference in rushing??? He should have Heisman next to his name after this season, it’s not even debatable.

  8. barbeaux says: Nov 10, 2012 8:59 PM

    Who cares if he’s a freshman? What matters is that he has played in very high pressure, high stakes games and has played extremely well. It’s sad what the heisman has turned into. It’s no longer about the best player. It seems to just be the best player on the best team.

  9. freemantowilliams says: Nov 10, 2012 9:00 PM

    Yeah no heisman this year but man a couple years from now or maybe even next year look out. A&M is going to start taking the top recruits from UT and they’re gonna get better wayyyy better. This is coming from a fsu fan.

  10. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Nov 10, 2012 9:05 PM

    All this Heisman hype! Why do the fans get fed a different flavor or player of the week after every single weekend? Let these kids play. The award goes to college footballs BEST overall athlete.
    Let the season play out!!

  11. peopletrains says: Nov 10, 2012 9:16 PM

    We’re 2-1/2 months into the college football season. If we weren’t talking about this kid as a Heisman contender before the game, we shouldn’t be talking about him as one after. He played a great game, has a bright future, but lets not get carried away.

  12. barbeaux says: Nov 10, 2012 9:23 PM

    @elwaysmilehighdenver….uh he deserves it because as a freshman he’s on pace to beat the stats that tebow had as a sophomore to win it. He’s also in the running to beat cam newton’s total yards in a season when he on the heisman. He’s doing this as a freshman. So yeah, he deserves it. He clearly isn’t a flavor of the week if you’ve been watching lots of college football rather than just certain games.

  13. truefootballinsight says: Nov 10, 2012 9:29 PM

    Amazing player, but broke down vs LSU and UF. Those stains on his resume will work against him, but would be enough to win it if 1) he was a preseason heisman contender or 2) he were not a freshman.

    I hate heisman voting,

  14. manchestermiracle says: Nov 10, 2012 9:35 PM

    Good thing Johnny isn’t like Barkley because Barkley sucks this year. I don’t what happened between last year and now, but he should have just gone on to the NFL. His stock is dropping faster than an elevator in free fall. He threw 3 interceptions today, one a pick 6. And managed to overthrow two wide-open receivers that would have been TDs.

  15. allen227 says: Nov 10, 2012 9:46 PM

    Didn’t Denard Robinson have ONE year like this and then teams caught on and now look at him. Don’t go overboard here.

  16. barbeaux says: Nov 10, 2012 9:49 PM

    @truefootballinsight: Tebow was what 9-3 when he won the heisman as a sophomore?

  17. possiblecabbage says: Nov 10, 2012 9:54 PM

    I believe in taking the “most outstanding player in college football” thing seriously. So if the best guy is a freshman, a defensive player, a punter, a guy who plays out of his mind on an 0-12 squad in the Sun Belt, or whatever he should win the Heisman.

    I hate how over the years the Heisman has become, more often than not, “most outstanding QB or RB on a contending team with name recognition.”

  18. kozbee says: Nov 10, 2012 10:47 PM

    If i had a vote as of now the Heisman top runner would be Johnny Manziel wrote all over it.The kid proved himself and if he continues the season he would be my choice.To beat off a defense as Bama has the kid earned it so far..

  19. megatronspartan says: Nov 10, 2012 11:33 PM

    Hmm lots of A&M fans all of a sudden….. Not to Long ago the whole state of TX was jumping down there back for leaving the big12 and now everyone loves it!

  20. domerhomer says: Nov 10, 2012 11:50 PM

    Alabama was overrated all year. Manti for heisman!!

  21. rsmeans says: Nov 10, 2012 11:59 PM

    Johnny should win the Heisman if you really want the best player in the country. TAM has played the toughest competition possible and would beat any team outside of the SEC very badly. Best player can only be judged by the compeition played against. No one in the weak PAC12, BIG10 or BIG 12 has played anyone with elite talent.

  22. mikefoxtrottango says: Nov 11, 2012 1:54 AM

    We know you didn’t think the Aggies would have this kind of success.

    It’s clear from your snide remarks this season that you believe A&M should be mocked rather than be respected.

    Move out of Austin. A change of scenery might improve your damaged credibility.

  23. lgwelsh1 says: Nov 11, 2012 3:06 AM

    He is definitely in the conversation, the kid is 19 years old, true freshman QB. He has a cannon for an arm, is leading the SEC is rushing and just beat the
    #1 team in the nation.

    I’d say he is at the top of the Heisman discussion.

    Johnny Football, man that kid can play.

  24. mikefoxtrottango says: Nov 11, 2012 7:02 AM

    He’s not a true freshman. He red shirted last year.

  25. 1historian says: Nov 11, 2012 7:02 AM

    Whoever invented the phrase ‘Johnny Football’ should be shot.

  26. 1historian says: Nov 11, 2012 7:05 AM

    The heisman trophy is named after John Heisman – the man who coached Georgia Tech to the most lopsided victory in college football history.

    222-0 over Cumberland College in 1916.

    There’s sportsmanship for you

  27. millersirish1986 says: Nov 11, 2012 8:04 AM

    Unless kstate loses and i dont know a middle linebacker ends up with the most interceptions and forced turnovers in the country

  28. wethog66 says: Nov 11, 2012 8:46 AM

    Last night was my first chance to watch Johnny Football play and it was a joy to watch. What a player. TAMU deserves to have a player like that.

    Having said all that, he is a redshirt freshman. Which means he has been in a big time D1 football program a year already. Hardly a freshman, IMO. Regardless, if the kid isn’t worthy of the Heisman at this point no one is.

  29. mrznyc says: Nov 11, 2012 9:18 AM

    Yes Heisman did run up the score but that was in response to the # 1 ranking being determined by margin of victory. Cumberland took the game for the money and planned to hire “ringers” for the game – The “ringers” never showed up. There were no first downs in the game – Cumberland’s best play was a 3 yard loss and Ga Tech scored touchdowns – Almost no one knows anyone on the Tech team, but the Cumberland team produced Senators, Supreme Court Justices and the head of the Red Cross during WWII – I think I’m correct on that – This is from ancient memory.

  30. lucky5936 says: Nov 11, 2012 11:03 AM

    No way Manziel wins the Heisman this year. He doesn’t have anymore big stage games left. If Texas A&M still had Texas on there schedule or was going to the SEC Championship, then yes I could see him having a chance. But big games against Sam Houston State and Missouri will not carry the same weight as what he did against Alabama. He definitely deserves to be invited to New York though. I would say Klein has it over Barner at this point, provided K-State and Oregon go undefeated.

  31. dolbythomas says: Nov 11, 2012 7:00 PM

    johnny football this, johnny manziel that. take a good look at the oregon freshman quarterback marcus mariota. are you kidding, the 18 year old from oregon is twice the q.b. theres never any mention of him. all he does is win. 6 td’s against cal, but he’s been on fire ALL YEAR. only 5 pick’s all year. give me a break— there is no contest here. he the most poised freshman q.b. in the land. but east coasters cant see it. why– look at his stats. unless you are a fool, you’ll come to the same conclusion— how can people overlook this kid , this phenom well beyond his years. and will bring a national championship to oregon to boot. amazing how blind some sports writers can be— wake the f–k up–mariota beats manziel everyday of the week

  32. mujeron says: Nov 11, 2012 7:34 PM

    Whoa! Now hold on there, freckles! Your “whole state of TX” comment was way off. I’m a die hard Aggie fan, and I, along with many other Texans, were NOT “jumping down their back” for leaving the Big 12. We embraced the move and trust that it was a good one. Congratulations to Manziel & Co. for an awesome win!

    megatronspartan says:Nov 10, 2012 11:33 PM

    Hmm lots of A&M fans all of a sudden….. Not to Long ago the whole state of TX was jumping down there back for leaving the big12 and now everyone loves it!

  33. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 12, 2012 11:57 AM

    I know that Manziel is going to lose based on bad performances vs UF and LSU, but he didn’t get his warmup game before UF due to a hurricane, so his baptism into college football and the SEC was the vauted Florida Defense. He had a great 1st half but was shut down in the second. LSU, I believe, is still the best defense in the country. Bama may have better numbers but they also have a ball control offense to keep their D off the field.

    I believe now, if those games were played again, Aggies win both, and Manziel has Johnny Football type numbers in both.

  34. olskool711 says: Nov 12, 2012 12:06 PM


    Not sure you have the status to question a supporter from the State of Michigan. Just in case you haven’t been informed, this is the year that they will have two of their universities in the top 10, and in bcs bowls. Also, the lions will be in the super bowl.

    Don’t you read the experts and michigan guy’s postings?

    Wait a minute, upon further review it looks like delaney and handcock will just have to put one of the schools in a bcs game regardless of their ability or record.

    Just like last year.

    But, next year is gonna be their year! If not, then the year after that, or after that, or when Bo comes back from the dead.

  35. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 12, 2012 12:06 PM


    Oregon plays in the Whack12 and Manziel plays in the SEC. Manziel faced 3 teams currently in the top 10 this year and 3 of the best defenses in the country. You’re trying to tell me that Mariota beating Cal is as good as Manziel beating Bama?

    Wake up dude. The Pac-12 is not the SEC. Not a whole lot of defense played in the PAC 12. Gaudy numbers are easy in the JV league.

    Would have loved to see a Oregon v Bama NCS though.

  36. greggatx says: Nov 12, 2012 12:52 PM

    There is still time for those aggies to choke, they do it all the time. Maybe this week against Sam Houston St.! lol Klein will win the Hiesman this year. He’s the better all round QB with the best all round team.

  37. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 12, 2012 5:15 PM

    greggatx says:
    Nov 12, 2012 12:52 PM
    There is still time for those aggies to choke, they do it all the time. Maybe this week against Sam Houston St.! lol Klein will win the Hiesman this year. He’s the better all round QB with the best all round team.


    Could you be any more obvious that you’re a bitter Horns fan. It looks like you’ll get your shot in Dallas much to the chagrin of DeLoss Dodds I would assume.

  38. nytitancl says: Nov 12, 2012 7:36 PM


    Mariota has only played, what, two whole games so far this year? His coach pulls the Oregon starters for the second half in most of their games since the score has been so lopsided! They aren’t playing to run up stats, which they could easily do. As for the Pac12 not being the SEC, it doesn’t seem like the SEC is the SEC this year. too bad.

  39. foreverlsu says: Nov 13, 2012 10:01 AM

    nytitancl says:Nov 12, 2012 7:36 PM

    As for the Pac12 not being the SEC, it doesn’t seem like the SEC is the SEC this year. too bad.

    Now THAT is hysterical. The SEC only has SIX teams in the top 9. What more does the SEC have to prove to intelligent bloggers like nytit?

    Oh, and it was quite clear that Oregon’s offense was shut down by an SEC defense the last two years. I’m sure Monte Kiffin’s swiss cheese USC defense will shut ’em down too. The PAC-12 is a complete joke.

  40. v2the4 says: Nov 13, 2012 11:50 AM

    I think its easier to stop a team when you have five weeks during bowl season or all off season to prepare for your opponent…..if you have to face that opponent with only one week to prepare, thats where you find yourself outmanned and under the gun…

    I think that is what has led to Texas A&M’s success thus far in the SEC….no one was ready for that offense, and not to mention, a couple of sec teams who were “supposed” to compete, Arkansas and Auburn, have been awful, especially on defense…if Nick Saban had the entire month of december to prepare for Johnny Manziel at A&M, then Alabama would have probably won that game…that takes nothing away from what the Aggies did on saturday….very few sec teams roll into T town and beat Bama.

    the same thing can be said of Oregon…they have blasted pac 12 schools week to week, and prior to beating Wisconsin last year in the rose bowl, they lost two straight bcs bowl games(bcs title game to Auburn, rose bowl to Ohio St). its difficult to prepare for a premium offense on a weekly basis, but if you have time, you can game plan for them.

    Tamu plays Sam Houston st this weekend…Sam Houston is ranked #3 in the FCS and last year, they were undefeated going into the FCS championship game vs North Dakota St before losing. Sam Houston LED Baylor this year at the half before Baylor pulled away from them, so the Aggies better not take the Bearcats lightly or they will find themselves in a game in the 4th quarter like Florida did last week vs La-Lafayette.

    Finally, I think Johnny Manziel is a great football player…he wanted to go to Texas, but Mac Brown never gave him an offer…he committed to Oregon, but switched to A&M to stay close to home…he will no doubt be the SEC freshman of the year, newcomer of the year, 1st team QB, and probably SEC MVP…..that alone will put him in the top 5 of Heisman finalists in my opinion along with K state QB Colin Klein…Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o….Oregon RB Kenyon Barner….and USC WR Marquise Lee

  41. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 14, 2012 3:42 PM

    nytitancl says:
    Nov 12, 2012 7:36 PM

    Mariota has only played, what, two whole games so far this year? His coach pulls the Oregon starters for the second half in most of their games since the score has been so lopsided! They aren’t playing to run up stats, which they could easily do. As for the Pac12 not being the SEC, it doesn’t seem like the SEC is the SEC this year. too bad

    If’ you’ve seen any A&M games you know that Manziel rarely sees a 4th quarter. A&M has jumped out to massive early leads and let off the gas in the second half.

    And as for the SEC not being the SEC this year… Have you seen the BCS standings? #4,5,6,7,8,9 are all from the SEC. You have to drop down to #13 before you find the next Pac 12 team. SEC has as many teams in top 10 as PAC 12 has in top 25. A&M has played the 4th hardest schedule in CFB compared to Oregon’s 59th. Manziels first game was against Florida, and Mariota’s was against Arkansas St.

    This is how explosive Manziel is, Kenjon Barner only gains one more foot per carry than Manziel. (6.5 to 6.8 ypc) Manziel leads the SEC in rushing, not just QBs, the entire conference, and is around 1oo yds behind the SEC passing leader. He is second nationally in total offense at 379 ypg. I just can’t see an argument that Mariota is better than Manziel.

  42. kozbee says: Nov 15, 2012 11:44 AM


    You dont believe that Bama didn`t actually watch film on A&M,Saban knew what he was up against a week or two before that actual game was played.The problem was imo A&M wanted that win more then Bama did thats why they won.Just like any fan that follows their conference they know who is good and who is not.Texas A&M has a solid defense and offense to play against a team as Bama and beat them.Congrats to A&M for a job well done imo no other team could do so far this season.I see a fire burning ever since Bama lost last Saturday and if Bama makes the playoffs i would bet they are at the NC when its done and over.Goodluck Tide.

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