Johnny Manziel has rejuvenated the Texas A&M football with a stellar freshman campaign this season, and even first year head coach Kevin Sumlin is quite surprised. Sumlin didn't even make a decision on his starting quarterback until August, when he finally chose the freshman out of Tyler, Texas. Ever since then, Manziel has quite literally been on fire every weekend at the helm. He has slowly but surely garnered a strong backing of Heisman support as the season is almost to a close, and is having a historically remarkable season considering the opposition he has been facing, albeit as a freshman.
1.) Freshman Firsts
Manziel has confused opponents every week with his feet or through the air. He will finish the season as the first SEC player, first freshman and fifth NCAA FBS player to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000. Last Saturday against Sam Houston State he racked up his eighth straight 300-yard game, and permanently put himself in the Texas A&M record books for most offensive yards in a season (4,161).
2.) SEC Speed
Johnny Football also possesses speed that has proved to make him increasingly elusive to opposing defenses, and he has rushed for 2 or more touchdowns in five games this season. His most impressive display of his running prowess came against Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 10th when he had his "Heisman moment", rushing for 92 yards on 18 carries against an Alabama defense that only allows ten points a game. Manziel accounted for two by himself and in the process knocked off the #1 team in the land.
3.) Manziel vs. Tebow/Newton
After comparing Manziel to former SEC Heisman winners Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, you can see that Manziel really is having a season to remember. During Tim Tebow's 2007 Heisman season, he accounted for 4,181 yards of total offense, 895 yards rushing with 23 touchdowns, 3,286 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and a 66.9 passing completion percentage. Cam Newton burst onto the national scene in 2010 when he won the Heisman with 4,327 yards of total offense, 1,473 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns, 2,854 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and a 66.1 passing completion percentage.
Now, this is where it gets fun. Manziel currently has 4,161 yards of total offense with one more regular season game against Missouri and an inevitable bowl invitation after New Year's. He's passed for 3,047 yards and 21 touchdowns, rushed for 1114 yards and 17 touchdowns and currently has a 67.7 passing completion percentage. He's putting up all of these numbers against SEC quality opponents as a freshman. Tebow was a sophomore during his remarkable 2007 season, and Newton was on his third college team as a 21 year old when he made his Heisman run.
4.) Efficient Passing
Manziel has passed extremely well considering its only his first full season at the helm, and first with newcomer Kevin Sumlin as well. He's posted a 70% completion percentage or better in six of out eleven games this year. His lone outlier game came against SEC foe LSU, where he committed three costly interceptions in a close loss at home 24-19. He has passed for 250 or more yards in eight out of eleven games, and posted a season high 453 yards against Arkansas. He also has shown that when the quality of the opposition stiffens, he can perform to task. In conference he currently has a 143.1 quarterback rating, and a 70% completion percentage.
5.) Success Against Elite Programs
Collin Klein may be the frontrunner for the Heisman for now, but the margin has shrunk significantly. Klein has also had himself a successful senior year which saw his team climb to number #1 in the land until they were ousted by Baylor. But the Big 12 is known for its regular scoring shootouts, where defenses are all but gone and touchdowns are scored in bunches. In the SEC, the conference has won the past six national championships, and have done so behind some of the best defenses in the land. Manziel is scoring against nationally ranked defenses in #2 Alabama, #3 LSU and #5 Florida. Klein is a senior and has made Kansas State relevant again, but his numbers pale in comparison to Manziel. Klein trails Johnny Football in almost every statistical category, and may have just given up the legendary Heisman trophy to the freshman.