All hail Johnny Football

Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel was the best player in college football this year, and the Heisman Trophy votes reflected it.

All year long, “Johnny Football” lived up to his nickname and on Saturday he was rewarded for his efforts, becoming the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy: A drought that spanned 78 years.

‘‘That barrier’s broken now,’’ said Manziel to ESPN after winning the award. ‘‘It’s starting to become more of a trend that freshmen are coming in early and that they are ready to play. And they are taking the world by storm.’’

Manziel drew 474 first-place votes and 2,029 points from the panel of media members and former winners. Notre Dame star lineback Manti Te’o finished with 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points, while Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein received 60 first place votes and 894 points.

Surprisingly, Manziel started this spring as the back up. Thus he decided to work with a quarterback’s coach in the summer to earn the starting role. He did so two weeks before the season started and the rest is history.

There is no doubt Manziel deserved this year’s award over the other two finalists. However, some still feel that Te’o, or by some abstract view of reality or poor attempt at humor, Colin Klein, should have won the award. Consider the facts.

This year Manziel has already broken Cam Newtown’s 4,600 yard SEC record at the Cotton Bowl, which is still yet to be played. He has thrown for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns and run for 1,181 yards with 19 more scores. By doing so he has become the first freshman and first SEC player to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.

Perhaps the most impressive statistics for Manziel were his 13 explosive runs of over 20 yards or more on scrambles. No one else in college football has that many runs of that length, including the nation’s top running backs.
Even though Te’o’s and Klein’s stats were strong, it would have been pure robbery to give the Heisman to anyone but “Johnny Football.”

Te’o has recorded a mind-boggling seven interceptions for a middle linebacker, and I love everything about what he stands for as a person. However, he may not have even been the best defensive player in the nation this year.
Georgia’s outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who unfortunately missed two games due to injury, makes a pretty strong claim for that title.

Jones has 77 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception in only 11 games this season. He was the dominating force in each game he played, but has been overlooked by many due to injury.

That said, Notre Dame’s defense is what propelled them back to No. 1 from the ranks of perpetual obscurity so it’s understandable why Te’o was in consideration for the award. He just didn’t deserve to win it.

Klein was never really a serious contender in anyone’s eyes, but had a great season for Kansas State, whose history books still lack a Heisman Trophy winner.

The right guy won the award and I was happy to see that, but please don’t start calling him “Johnny Heisman.” The guy already has a corny enough nickname.


Will Reeve
Staff Writer
Published Dec. 12, 2012