Don’t look now, but Johnny Manziel could be on the verge of history.
The most polarizing figure in college football, fresh off a Heisman Trophy winning season and a scandal ridden offseason, should be on track to collect his second consecutive Heisman Trophy — joining only Archie Griffin as a two-time winner.
The problem is, nobody seems to notice what he’s doing on the field. We’re all too busy hating on the guy.
Through Manziel’s first six games this season, he’s led Texas A&M to the same record (5-1) as he did at the same point in 2012. The difference this season is that his best game so far was also his team’s only loss — a 49-42 shootout with Alabama where he tossed five touchdowns against the consensus best team in the land.
Aside from wins and losses, Manziel’s other stats are better or on par with what he was doing at the same point last year. His 131 completions in 179 attempts (73.2 completion pct.) top what he did in 2012 (128 for 190, 67.3 pct.) His passing yards in 2013 (1835) top 2012’s first half total (1680). His touchdown pass total (14) is exactly the same, though he has thrown more interceptions at this point (5 vs. 3).
What separated Manziel from other quarterbacks last season were his legs. Through the first six games of the year in 2012, Manziel carried 91 times for 676 yards. His 2013 total is less than that (67 for 438), but when you add up the total passing and rushing yards, there is less than a 100 yard difference between 2012 and 2013 (2356 vs. 2273). Remember, Manziel sat out the first half of the first game of the 2013 season.
With Jadeveon Clowney all but out of the Heisman running, other names are starting to get tossed around. Guys like Tajh Boyd, Aaron Murray, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are being considered serious contenders by everyone, while Manziel’s name is only mentioned in a “Oh, by the way” manner by most pundits as a form of obligated lip service.
I find that interesting, considering Manziel’s total passing yards are only 37 behind Bridgewater and more than Murray, Boyd, Mariota and Winston to this point. On the ground, only Mariota’s numbers are comparable to Manziel’s. The other guys aren’t even close.
It is my sincere hope that the powers that be who cast votes for the Heisman Trophy don’t rule him out simply because they don’t like him or he’s already won it once. That would be a shame, as we are watching what could be one of the greatest college football players of all-time play out his career right before our eyes — all while showing no signs of the adversity (albeit mostly self-inflicted) he’s faced in 2013.
By no means am I a member of the Johnny Manziel fan club, but if Manziel continues the pace he’s on in 2013 and his Texas A&M Aggies keep winning, it’s going to take an act of ignorance and blatant irresponsibility for any voter to leave his name off the ballot, let alone not give him a first-place vote.
It seems as though his greatest crime was enjoying life to the fullest, skirting rules that have nothing to do with competitive advantage and squeezing every last drop he can get from his own fame. If that’s what we use in 2013 to decide who deserves and who gets disqualified from awards, meaningful and not, I see a bigger problem with the rest of us than anything Johnny Manziel ever did.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON OCTOBER 14, 2013
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