Want to know what Johnny Manziel sounds like and how composed, confident, and capable he is in his first-ever press conference as a Texas Aggie starting quarterback? You’ve found the right place for the online link, and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, even if you’re not a Texas Aggie, you’re going to be rooting for the 19-year-old Kerrville Tivy High School star to receive an honor that will break with all tradition, as the wave of national sentiment continues to build for a freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
Yesterday, Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin gave his approval for Aggie football phenomenon, Johnny Manziel, to participate in his first teleconference with media. As the audio tapes were replayed across the country, KBTX-Media TV anchor John Gilbert said on the 10 pm news last night, “now we know what Johnny Manziel sounds like.” Manziel has been wisely hidden away from the media until the season’s completion so that he could focus on his job as starting quarterback.
Today, lifting his ban on any freshmen giving comments to media, Coach Sumlin allowed assuredly the most talked-about player in college football to participate in his first live media conference. All 300 seats available to media were filled in the Bright athletics complex, hours in advance, with local, state, and national broadcasters (ESPN, USA Today) waiting anxiously for the 2:00 pm press conference to start. No one in the room was disappointed, as young Manziel showed professionalism, modesty, and gratitude for the accolades that continue to be heaped upon him as a result of his—and his team’s—accomplishments.
In leading Texas A&M to a 10-2 record in their inaugural season in the SEC, Manziel has thrown, run, and out-strategized his competition in a style that is nothing short of phenomenal, and he’s managed to unite all Aggies behind the sport to the extent that they are now planning a half-billion-dollar expansion of Kyle Field, home to Aggie football. That is the impact of a young man who is (annoyingly) called “Johnny Football,” a nickname given him back in his days at Kerrville’s Tivy High School.
“I don’t really see myself as kind of the Johnny Football craze, that’s kind of swept Aggieland and swept around the nation a little bit. I see myself as Johnny Manziel, a guy from Kerrville, Texas. I just try to be a laid-back guy who likes to hang out with my friends, and be a normal college student, just like anybody else.”
In just three short months, Kevin Sumlin’s go-to quarterback coach, Kliff Kingsbury, has used what he learned first from former mentor and former Texas Tech Head Coach, Mike Leach, to create the Aggie’s winning plan, game after game. In what has to be a true vindication for Leach, and just ever so slightly a stinging reminder to the Lubbock-based regents that they really missed the boat, Sumlin, Kingsbury, and Manziel are truly triumphant in producing a winning combination for Aggie football.
The “Air Raid” offense, as it’s called, was developed by Kingsbury, working under Kevin Sumlin first at Houston. A good combination became great, just 90 miles and 365 days down the road in College Station. Kingsbury “was recognized as the 2011 Offensive Coordinator of the year after Houston lead college football, averaging 50 points and nearly 600 yards of offense per game.” Manziel says of Kingsbury, “he’s one of my favorite people, he was a great quarterback, and he is great at what he does; I really enjoy learning from him.”
And who better than Johnny Manziel to direct the Aggie Air Raid? His ability for quickness and reading defenses is tailor-made for every play drawn up on the board. In his press conference, amidst all the areas he touched on, Manziel credited his parents for his athleticism and confessed that he still couldn’t beat his dad in golf, but that’s okay. He’s definitely got game, and football is the name of the game.
To date this season, in only 12 short weeks of his 19-year-old life, Manziel’s accolades are plentiful, powerful, and promising:
“Recognized Heisman trophy candidate;
Maxwell Award Finalist;
Davey O’Brien Award Finalist;
SEC Player of the Year Candidate;
All-America Candidate; and
SEC Record Holder for “Most yards in a season (4,600) and most yards in a game (576).”
Texas is simply a great place for producing winners of football’s most prestigious award. Last year, the Heisman Trophy was awarded to Robert Griffin III (better known as RG3) of Baylor, and Texas Longhorn Ricky Williams received the honor in 1998, as did Earl Campbell in 1977, and of course the Texas A&M “living legend” himself, John David Crow, in 1957 and Davey O’Brien of TCU in 1938. Appropriately, this year Manziel is a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award. Everything comes full circle in time. Texas A&M is hoping that another “first” will happen here with the Heisman being awarded to a freshman, for the first time since the award was presented in 1935.
Rather than recap, summarize, and capsulize young Johnny Manziel’s words, here’s something better: Aggie football fans can watch today’s press conference, here, on 12th Man TV at the aggieathletics.com web site. Get ready for football fever in Aggieland to reach an all-time high next week. The 2012 Heisman announcement will be Saturday, December 8th at 8 pm, live from the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square. The dinner gala will be Monday, December 10th at the New York Marriott Marquis, beginning at 5:30 pm. Tickets are available here. The future looks so bright, as the song says, “you’ll have to wear shades.”