He’s been called Johnny Football, Johnny Wonderful, Johnny Magic and even Scooby Doo (although it took me awhile to actually find Manziel in this photo from a Halloween party).
But in a few weeks, you can just call Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel your 2012 Heisman Trophy winner — the Aggies’ first since John David Crow in 1957. Coincidentally, Crow was coached at A&M by Bear Bryant, who went on to become an Alabama Crimson Tide legend.
And there is more than one reason why the Bryant-Alabama tie is key to Manziel’s legitimate claim to being the best player in college football this year.
When asked if his star player was a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender, Bryant famously said, “If John David Crow doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy, they ought to stop giving it.”
Ditto for the latest Johnny Heisman.
Because he is a redshirt freshman, playing for a team that has been mediocre in recent seasons, there has been something of a bias, or at least a skepticism.
But in order to win the award, two things matter as much as the statistics a contender puts up.
1) He has to have THAT MOMENT. That singular slice of time that hangs in the mind’s eye and becomes the epitome of why he won the award.
2) He has to have wins — and not just wins, but big wins.
Manziel now has both.
His bobbled-snap improvised touchdown throw in Tuscaloosa will be replayed over and over again for decades. So, too, will his clinching perfectly-tossed pass to tight end Malcome Kennedy.
As for the win. Only twice has a team won at Bryant-Denny Stadium over the past four seasons. One was Cam Newton the year he won the Heisman Trophy. The other was LSU last year, on the way to playing for the National Championship.
And now Manziel has led the Aggies into the breach of 101,000 Tide fans and come out with a win over the No. 1-ranked, defending national champions.
As for numbers? Consider the last two players to star bright enough in the rugged SEC to win the Heisman Trophy.
Cam Newton and Tim Tebow.
Through 10 games, Manziel has more completions, more passing yards and more total yards than either had at this point in their Heisman seasons. He is on pace to have more than 4,900 total yards and 45 touchdowns this season, which would shatter SEC records for both.
Johnny Be Heisman Winner.