After two seasons of wowing college fans with his on-field abilities and off-field antics, Johnny Football is taking his game to the NFL.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel announced Wednesday that he will enter the 2014 NFL Draft, leaving behind a record-setting college career capped by his selection as the first freshman to win a Heisman Trophy during the 2012 season. Manziel, 21, leaves A&M as the school’s career leader in total offense (9,989 yards) and completion percentage (69.0 pct.) while compiling a 20-6 record in two seasons as the Aggies’ starting quarterback.
Manziel, who topped the 500-yard mark in five different games at A&M, leaves College Station with school records for most total yards in a game (576), most passing yards in a game (464), most total yards in a season (5,116), most touchdown passes in a season (37) and highest completion rate in a season (69.9 pct.).
Despite his undersized frame (6-foot, 200 pounds), Manziel is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, perhaps a top-5 selection. His quickness and improvisation skills have set him apart from other college players, helping the Kerrville Tivy product account for the two most prolific seasons by an SEC quarterback, based on total yards, during his two years at A&M.
Manziel announced his decision in a unique manner by releasing a letter to A&M fans through the TexAgs.com website.
In part, the letter read: “I have decided to make myself available for the 2014 NFL Draft. The decision was not an easy one … I regret we weren’t able to bring a national championship to College Station, but I assure you a championship is going to come soon … Thank you for making my college years very special.”
In a statement released by school officials, A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said: “In all of my years of coaching, Johnny Manziel is the most exciting football player I have ever seen. We appreciate everything he has done for Texas A&M and Aggie football and wish him nothing but the best.”
Manziel’s flamboyant style of play, coupled with his iconic nickname and penchant for rubbing shoulders with celebrities off the field, made him the face of college football during his two seasons in Aggieland. His presence on the roster, coupled with A&M’s instant success as an SEC member, helped fuel an ongoing, $450 million renovation of Kyle Field that will boost capacity to 102,500 seats, making the Aggies’ home stadium the largest in the state.
As an NFL player, Manziel now will be able to cash in on his trademarked “Johnny Football” nickname, an avenue blocked by NCAA rules. Manziel reportedly will be represented by Select Sports Group, a Houston-based agency, with his marketing opportunities overseen by LRMR, a firm run by LeBron James’ business partner Maverick Carter.
Although he waited more than a week after the Aggies’ 52-48 victory over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to declare his NFL intentions, Manziel’s decision did not surprise anyone within the school’s athletic department. Manziel has dropped strong hints about his NFL intentions since February, when he cited the success of undersized Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (5-11, 204) as a motivating factor for his NFL dreams while in Fort Worth to accept the 2012 Davey O’Brien Award.
“Regardless of how long I’m at A&M, … I’m going to enjoy the time that I do have and go out and try to win every game,” Manziel said in February. “For me, being a shorter guy, a chance at the NFL, at a high draft pick, that’s something that I’ve only ever dreamed about.”
Asked about his NFL potential before the Duke game, which would be his last as a college player, Manziel said: “You take everything into account. But more than anything, ‘Are you ready for the next level?’ In my mind, I think I am.”
Manziel, who averaged a league-record 384.2 yards per game in total offense during his college career, topped the SEC in total yards as a freshman (5,116), when he won the 2012 Heisman, and again last season (4,873), when the Aggies finished 9-4 and No. 18 in the final college football rankings. In 2012, Manziel broke the SEC total offense mark set in 2010 by Auburn’s Cam Newton (4,327), who emerged as the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Because Manziel’s size and off-field issues concern some NFL general managers (the NCAA suspended Manziel for the first half of this year’s Rice game following an investigation into improper financial benefits related to autographs), there is varied speculation about where the former A&M star will be selected in the 2014 draft. Most analysts peg him as a top-10 pick, with ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay projecting Manziel as the No. 4 overall prospect (and No. 3 quarterback) earlier this week.
But McShay added that, while he believes Manziel will be selected among the top five picks, he would not spend such a lofty pick on Manziel if he was an NFL general manager. In an interview with CBSSports.com, Manziel said he will soon relocate to San Diego to begin regular workouts with private quarterback tutor George Whitfield Jr. in efforts to boost his draft stock.
In a statement released by school officials, Manziel said he “felt this was the right time to make the next step toward a professional career … I’ll always be an Aggie.”
Manziel by the numbers
1Heisman Trophy won in 2012. Manziel became the first freshman to win the award.
20-6Record in two seasons as the Aggies’ starting quarterback.
9,989Total yards of offense, most in Texas A&M history.
68.9%Career completion percentage, best in school history.
93Career touchdowns, passing and rushing.
Top 2014 QB prospects
|1. Teddy Bridgewater||Louisville|
|2. Blake Bortles||Central Fla.|
|3. Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M|
|4. Derek Carr||Fresno St.|
Top 10 draft picks
|1. Houston Texans||2-14|
|2. St. Louis Rams*||7-9|
|3. Jacksonville Jaguars||4-12|
|4. Cleveland Browns||4-12|
|5. Oakland Raiders||4-12|
|6. Atlanta Falcons||4-12|
|7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4-12|
|8. Minnesota Vikings||5-10-1|
|9. Buffalo Bills||6-10|
|10. Detroit Lions||7-9|
Leaving a legacy
During his two seasons as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback, Johnny Manziel won the 2012 Heisman Trophy as a freshman and set at least 35 school, SEC and NCAA records.
|NCAA||Freshman total offense||5,116 yards (2012)|
|SEC||Total offense (game)||576 yards (2012, La. Tech)|
|SEC||Career completion pct.||69.0|
|A&M||Career total offense||9,989 yards|
|A&M||Season passing yards||4,114 (2013)|
|A&M||Career TD responsibility||93|