Johnny Manziel has become quite the internet sensation since his huge upset win against the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa last Saturday night. People all across the country have been increasingly interested in the Kerrville, Texas native who has revitalized a Texas A&M program used to being a doormat in recent years. As Manziel is about to wrap up a sensational freshman campaign and likely bowl game for the Aggies, its worth taking a look into how far "Johnny Football" has come.
Manziel is a Texas boy through and through, coming from the rolling hills of Kerr County, Texas which boasts a population just over 20,000. Sitting about an hour outside of San Antonio, Manziel led Kerrville Tivy to some memorable wins against other top-ranked teams around the state. Texas has long been known as a hotbed for future Division I blue chip recruits, but Manziel fell under some program's radar.
Unbelievably, ESPN had him as the 78th best quarterback in his class entering his senior year at Tivy. Other dual threat quarterbacks that are now finding success around the country were all ahead of him, including: Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater and Everett Golson. All of those young men are playing exceptionally well, but Manziel is doing some uncharacteristically amazing things on the field this year. None of the other quarterback's in his class have had to face LSU, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama this season. Manziel had the Aggies on the brink of almost winning all of those games, and may have taken Alabama out of the national title picture.
Manziel actually almost never had the chance to play for Sumlin at Texas A&M. He verbally commited to Pac-12 power Oregon, before A&M came calling with a scholarship offer. He decommited from Oregon to stay close to home, and so far the Aggies seem to have pulled in a gem of a recruit from the Longhorn state. He wasn't even on the radar for much of spring practice to have a chance at starting in September. As a San-Antonio paper noted, he wasn't even on the radar of Sumlin, and was only made the starter in mid-August over sophomore Jameill Showers.
Since Sumlin has named Manziel his starting quarterback, Texas A&M football hasn't quite been the same. Standing at just 6'1'' and 200 lbs, he has shown he's arguably the most explosive offensive dynamo not just the SEC, but the entire country. He currently leads the SEC in rushing yards per game, all while facing the 2nd toughest schedule in the FBS. He's not bowing down to any of the elite powers in the conference this year, he's trying to embarrass them.
Manziel may not become the equivalent of Tebowmania when Tim Tebow launched the Gators to two national titles, and then revived the Broncos into postseason success. Manziel has had a few incidents with the law since he's been in College Station, but he insures that is all behind him. He already has more rushing and passing yards than Tebow did when he won the Heisman as a sophomore, and the Gators were 9-3 that year. Manziel has the Aggies currently sitting at 8-2 as a freshman with a team that wasn't supposed to be anything more than mediocre this year.
Manziel has seemingly rejuvenated a program that desperately needed someone like Johnny Football to get them back into the minds of opposing schools once more. Bringing Sumlin's offensive IQ from Houston last year and paired with Manziel has so far been a perfect match. They rank in the top ten in every offensive statistical category in the nation, and Manziel's blazing speed has been unmatched. He made Alabama defenders continually miss last weekend, and shows that he thrives on the biggest of stages. He had LSU and Florida reeling before they escaped with close wins earlier in the season. They may have breathed a collective gasp of relief, but Manziel will be back to wreck havoc next year in the SEC yet again.
Compared with Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein, Manziel has 700 more passing yards, six more touchdown passes, three more 100-yard rushing games, and six more games of passing for 250 or more yards. Klein has a higher quarterback rating and completion percentage, but the Big 12 isn't the SEC. Manziel also is four years Klein's junior, even making the comparions more startling. Klein is a converted wide receiver, but has shown brightly in Snyder's offense. But Manziel will surely have the Aggies in a similar position next season that Klein currently is enjoying. Johnny Football is captivating the college football season so far, and his ride has only just left the station.