Johnny Manziel helped put the Texas A&M football program on the map. Would he have had the same impact if he had gone to Oregon? Probably not.
As we lead up to the NFL Draft we are seeing NFL writers scramble to fill more time with draft preview content. Players are moving up and down draft boards for no real reason, but that is all a part of the game. In Philadelphia the idea of former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly drafting Manziel has picked up some steam for one reason or another. By now the story of how Kelly once tried to get Manziel to attend Oregon has been documented so well even the most casual of Eagles fan in the Delaware Valley can probably fill you in on the details. To this day, Kelly says Manziel would have been perfect for Oregon.
“When I coached at Oregon he was tailor made for it,” Kelly said in a story by CSN Philly. “He broke my heart. I love the kid. I think he’s a hell of a football player.”
Kelly has a chance to finally get Manziel on his team, although the reigning NFC East champions have needs on defense they should probably focus on first. But it is one of those things that makes you wonder what would have happened if Manziel had gone to play at Oregon instead of Texas A&M? A lot, probably.
Manziel was a three-star quarterback when he was recruited according to Rivals. Manziel signed with Texas A&M in the Class of 2011. Oregon wound up with Marcus Mariota, who committed to the Ducks before Manziel’s verbal commitment to the Aggies. If Manziel had gone to Oregon, he likely would have backed up junior starter Darron Thomas, who put together 33 touchdown passes as Oregon won a Pac-12 title and defeated Wisconsin in a back-and-forth Rose Bowl. The competition to start would start in 2012 between Manziel and Mariota, assuming both ended up in Eugene. Would Manziel have won that competition? Manziel and Mariota each won starting jobs at their respective schools that season, but Manziel may have been the player to keep Oregon’s BCS title dreams alive. If you remember what Manziel and Texas A&M did to Alabama that season, do you think Manziel could have led Oregon past a defensively sound Stanford? Mariota and the Ducks lost to Stanford, 17-14, in mid-November.
Imagine if Manziel had led the Ducks past Stanford to stay in the BCS championship mix. Oregon would have gone on to play in the BCS Championship Game, against either undefeated Notre Dame or, perhaps, an undefeated Alabama. Oregon and Alabama would have likely been the BCS championship match-up, which means Manziel would have had a chance to topple Alabama anyway.