Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and the 2012 recipient, has fashioned a history-making college career during his time in College Station.
As a third-year sophomore, Manziel is eligible to enter the 2014 NFL Draft and has dropped strong hints that his final college game will occur Tuesday, when No. 21 A&M (8-4) meets No. 24 Duke (10-3) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta (7 p.m., ESPN).
Manziel has yet to make an official announcement about his future. But in a recent interview he acknowledged he has sought feedback from NFL executives, as permitted under NCAA rules, and also will seek counsel from coaches and family members before deciding whether to include his name in the draft pool in January.
“To sit here and say it’s not on my mind, that wouldn’t be very truthful,” Manziel said of his NFL future. “If you’re going to be smart with the opportunity at hand, you have to exhaust all your options and make the best decision about what’s best for you.
“You take everything into account. But more than anything, ‘Are you ready for the next level?’ That’s the big thing. In my mind, I think I am.”
Manziel, 21, has drawn kudos from multiple NFL draft analysts while racking up 9,564 yards of total offense and accounting for 88 touchdowns in two seasons as the Aggies’ starting quarterback. Although his size (6-foot, 200 pounds) and gunslinger style concern some NFL general managers, Manziel is projected to be taken in the top half of the first round if he makes himself available in the 2014 draft.
In his second season as an A&M starter, Manziel has upped his completion percentage (69.1) and passing efficiency rating (170.4) over the numbers he posted in 2012, when he became the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy. He’s also thrown more touchdown passes (33) and interceptions (13) than he did as a freshman while showing more pocket presence and cutting back on his rushing attempts.
Manziel heads into the Duke game with 686 rushing yards (5.2 avg.) and eight touchdowns after rushing for 1,410 yards and 21 TDs as a freshman.
In a wide-ranging interview, Manziel said he’s healthier than he has been for several weeks after playing with shoulder and thumb ailments.
He also explained why, after a tumultuous off-season capped by an NCAA suspension for the first half of the season opener against Rice, he did not post an entry on his Twitter feed from July 31 to Dec. 6.
And he knows what he wants his A&M legacy to be if Tuesday’s game is his college finale.
Below is a look at Manziel in his own words: