Can Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel Ride Hotstreak To Heisman Trophy Contention?

on October 18 2012 9:30 PM
Can Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel Ride Hotstreak To Heisman Trophy Contention?

A few months ago, Texas A&M's freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel was being put into handcuffs after a rough night out in College Station—now he is No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference in total offense.

The Kerrville, Texas native has made a rapid rise from his infamous shirtless mug shot following his arrest in June to earning the nickname "Johnny Football" around Aggieland.

Before making his way to Texas A&M, he had a legendary prep career as the signal caller for Tivy High School, compiling more than 5,000 yards of total offense and 80 total touchdowns in his senior year alone. 

Following his time as a prep star in central Texas, he enrolled early at TAMU and spent his first year as a redshirt behind current Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

On Aug. 15, a little bit over a month after the bar fight incident, Manziel was named starting quarterback by first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin. The redshirt-freshman edged out a pair of sophomores—Jamiell Showers and Matt Joeckell—a move that was highly scrutinized at the time.

Two months later, no one is questioning Sumlin's decision.

Led by Manziel, Texas A&M is in the thick of the SEC West title race in its first year in the conference with a crucial contest with LSU coming up this weekend.

The Aggies season opener with Louisiana Tech was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. So, with a first-year coach and a freshman quarterback, their season premier was also their SEC premier—coming against Florida, currently ranked No. 2 in the BCS rankings.

TAMU almost pulled off the upset in its conference debut, with Manziel compiling a game-high 223 yards of total offense. However, the stingy Gator defense prevailed in a 20-17 comeback win.

Since then, the Aggie offense has averaged 53 points per game on the back of its freshman field general.

Just like back at Tivy, Manziel has been putting up huge numbers—only now they have been coming against Division I college defenses.

In those five games he has amassed 2,123 yards of total offense at an average of 424.6 yards per game. More importantly, the Aggies have won all five games.

Individually, he has preformed so well in his freshman season that the "Manziel for Heisman" talk has begun.

Not long ago, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was thought to be all alone at the top of the Heisman race, but that lead was cut down as his team struggled mightily on the road against Texas Tech—opening the door Manziel and others.

Looking that the numbers, there is no doubt Manziel should be in the thick of the race now. He is currently No. 2 in the nation in total offense, ranking him ahead of other top contenders like Smith, Braxton Miller of Ohio State, and Collin Klein of Kansas State.

At 280 yards per game, he has averaged more distance through the air than any other freshman quarterback—and he also leads all freshmen, including running backs, in rushing yardage.

His nose for the end zone has carried over from his prep career as well. He currently trails only Geno Smith in scoring, accounting for 24 points per game. Additionally, he has 24 touchdowns on the year, 14 passing and 10 rushing. 

There is still a long way to go on the season for Manziel and the Aggies, as this week they will take on No. 6 LSU at home.

Then will be a three-game road stretch that will with an Auburn team desparate for a victory. After that will be two undefeated SEC West foes—Mississippi State and Alabama—both away from College Station.

Of the final six games, three of TAMU's opponents rank in the Top 15 in scoring defense—including the best defense in college football in Alabama.

Over these final six games, we'll learn exactly what Manziel is made of. He'll surely be challenged over the last half of the season, but the gauntlet will also provide plenty of opportunities for Manziel to make his case for the nation's top individual honor.

If he can manage to keep up his recent pace of play, Texas A&M's "Johnny Football" just might become the nation's "Mr. Football" in December.