Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, earned only second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors Thursday on the preseason squad selected by league football coaches.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was chosen as the first-team honoree, with Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron selected as the third-teamer. All three players project as candidates for the 2013 Heisman Trophy, although Manziel’s eligibility status remains clouded because of an ongoing investigation into allegations that he accepted money for signing memorabilia in violation of NCAA rules.
Voting totals for individual honorees were not announced and coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team. A&M, the No. 7 team in The Associated Press’ preseason poll, landed only one first-team honoree in voting by SEC coaches: offensive tackle Jake Matthews, an All-America performer last season.
Manziel, who set an SEC record with 5,116 yards of total offense last season, was selected last month as the first-team quarterback in a preseason poll of media members who cover the league.
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Joining Matthews and Manziel among A&M selections by SEC coaches were receiver Mike Evans, a second-team honoree, and defensive back Deshazor Everett, a third-team selection. Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, placed a league-high five players on the first team and seven on the second unit.
In other Manziel-related news, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp raised questions about the accuracy of ESPN reports that triggered the NCAA probe in a newsletter sent to “community and business leaders.” The Austin American-Statesman first reported Sharp’s challenge.
In the newsletter, Sharp wrote that school officials have had “ongoing and productive dialogue with the NCAA” throughout the investigation but noted that one of the ESPN reporters who broke the story “has been duped before.” Sharp questioned the validity of ESPN’s unnamed sources used in the Manziel reports, calling it “surprising that the nation’s largest sports channel would support publication with this lack of corroboration.”
In a Thursday statement, ESPN officials said: “We stand by our reporting.”
Below is a look at Sharp’s message from the newsletter:
“As you are well aware, our Heisman Trophy winning, freshman quarterback has been very popular this summer! I hope you saw that I recently supported him at the opening of the Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth.
“While I did confirm that it was a personal view, my motivation was based on the fact we have had ongoing and productive dialogue with the NCAA during their investigation, as required. However, some members of the media have chosen to declare No. 2 guilty with no evidence whatsoever.
“Darren Rovell of ESPN, who broke this story, has been duped before. During his report on Johnny Manziel, he cites unnamed sources who refuse to provide an interview or any tangible proof. In fact, his ‘named source,’ Drew Tieman (initially referred to as the broker), was reportedly booked twice for possession of marijuana and placed on four years probation. He has taken down his Facebook page, changed his telephone number and is refusing attempts to be interviewed by the NCAA. It is surprising that the nation’s largest sports channel would support publication with this lack of corroboration.
“I look forward to the start of this football season and am confident that we’ll once again exceed expectations during our second season in the SEC. We should all be very proud of what Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and his staff are accomplishing here in Aggieland.”