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Texas A&M freshman looks to make Heisman history



Published: Thu, December 6, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Texas A&M QB could be first freshman to win Heisman

Associated Press

COLLEGE STATION, texas

Johnny Manziel certainly has the statistics worthy of a Heisman Trophy winner. He plays in the powerful Southeastern Conference. He has a signature win — all things Heisman voters typically look for.

The only question is whether the voters will give the award to a freshman for the first time.

Adrian Peterson, star running back for the Vikings and the only freshman to finish second in the voting, is hoping the jinx ends Saturday night.

“Hopefully, they don’t rob him like they did me,” Peterson, who lost by 328 votes to junior Matt Leinart in 2004, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I hope he wins.”

Manziel may be a favorite this year, but who knows? Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o are the other finalists and both can make strong cases, too. But neither caught the attention of the fans quite like Johnny Football, who led the Aggies to an upset of No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Manziel accumulated 4,600 yards of total offense in 12 games to break the Southeastern Conference record for total yards in a season. The record was previously held by 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton, who needed 14 games to pile up 4,327 yards.

The Aggies, who went 10-2 in their first season in the SEC after moving from the Big 12, certainly hope Manziel is the one to finally break the freshman curse (Manziel is a redshirt freshman, not a true freshman).

On a website the school created to promote Manziel for the award, they point out that he’s different than many freshman. Manziel enrolled in college in January 2010 and will be a junior academically this spring. He turns 20 on Thursday, making him older than Mark Ingram was when he took home the Heisman as a sophomore in 2009.

Manziel’s whirlwind season had a modest beginning with him having to beat out two other quarterbacks to win the starting position in mid-August.

As his numbers grew, so did the legend of Johnny Football, a nickname Aggies bestowed him with as he settled in at College Station. When the Aggies beat the defending champion Crimson Tide on national television behind an outstanding performance by Manziel, the phrase seemed to be everywhere.

It’s a name that still amuses him.

“I don’t know if I really see it as a legend,” he said. “It’s more of a folk tale, I guess.”

His numbers alone seem like the stuff of some exaggerated Texas football folk tale. He has thrown for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and run for 1,181 yards and 19 more scores to become the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth player overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.

But his eye-popping numbers don’t tell the whole story. The improvisation is what really sets him apart. Manziel has a knack for evading defenders, staying on his feet and finishing plays that seem impossible. Kind of like Robert Griffin III, the Baylor star who won the Heisman last year. Or Fran Tarkenton, another wizard at avoiding defenders.

“I don’t think there’s many people in this world that could do some of the things he did,” Crow said. “He was born to run around back there — at least it looks that way to me.”


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