Johnny Be Good? : The saga of “Johnny Football”
By Shawn Gallagher – DFW Writer
By now, even those of us that don’t follow college football closely know about Johnny Manziel, aka “Johnny Football”, and his impact on the College Football world and beyond. An unprecedented freshman dream season last year at Texas A and M, brought “Johnny Football” a world of success, which included a Heisman trophy, and a rather “circus-like” atmosphere surrounding him. In this column here, we will go over the events that helped to create “Johnny Football” and try to figure out if he’ll continue his success in the NFL, and in your dynasty leagues.
The Beginning: Tivy High School
Johnny’s football career began several years ago at Tivy High School, a larger school located in Kerrville, Texas. A two sport star, Manziel was a standout baseball player as well as a football player for his four years of high school. College scouts began to rave about Manziel, when he was a sophomore at Tivy, and became known as a “triple threat” player, who could pass, run, and receive exceptionally. It was during his sophomore season that Johnny accumulated nearly 1,200 yards passing, 800 yards rushing, and 400 yards receiving, while scoring a total of 28 Touchdowns!! By the time Johnny was a senior, he settled into the quarterback position and accumulated a total of over 5,000 combined passing and rushing yards, and contributing to a whopping total of 75 Touchdowns by the end of the year!! It was fair to say that college scouts took notice of these remarkable numbers as it was time for Johnny to choose a college. Here is a High School highlight reel that gave college scouts around the country their first taste of “Johnny Football”.
Texas A and M: The Dream Season!
After a long drawn out recruiting battle, Johnny Manziel decided to enroll at Texas A and M, over several other scholarship offers. Manziel grew up a Texas Longhorns fan, but decided not to go there as they wanted Johnny to switch to defensive back and not play quarterback in college. A redshirt season in 2011 allowed Manziel to learn from starting quarterback and future Miami Dolphin Ryan Tannehill. 2012 brought a change at Texas A and M, as the Aggies hired Coach Kevin Sumlin, who had recently built a very nice program with a high powered offense at the University of Houston. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, Sumlin decided to roll the dice early on, and start redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel at quarterback. What transpired in 2012 can only be described as a dream season for anyone, let alone a freshman quarterback getting a taste of his first college football action in the mighty SEC conference. “Johnny Football” remarkably led Texas A and M to an 11-2 record on the season, which included a benchmark win over the eventual National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide! Here are two really good highlight videos of Johnny Manziel covering his 2012 season and remarkable job in defeating Alabama.
2012: The Numbers
Here is a look at the statistics and awards that Johnny Manziel accumulated in his remarkable 2012 football season! Keep in mind these awards listed here don’t even included the numerous Texas A and M school records that Manziel set as well!
2012 Heisman Trophy winner (first freshman to win)
2012 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award winner (first freshman to win)
2012 Manning Award winner (first freshman to win)
2012 First-team All-American
2012 SEC Offensive Player of the Year
2012 SEC Freshman of the Year
2012 All-SEC First-Team Quarterback
2013 Cotton Bowl Classic - Offensive MVP
2012 ESPN.com All-Bowl Team
2012 Finalist, Maxwell Award
2012 Finalist, Walter Camp Player of the Year
Off the Field Concerns???
The spectacular 2012 season helped to catapult Johnny Manziel to household celebrity status. The awards shows, banquets, and TV appearances helped to elevate “Johnny Football” to a rather legendary status in a short period of time. Various off the field concerns began to surface regarding “Johnny Football”, leading people to question his celebrity lifestyle, work ethic, and dedication among other things. Johnny recently was sent home from a Manning family football camp for allegedly partying a bit too hard and sleeping in during his time there. A more serious scandal emerged in the past month or so, when Manziel was accused of receiving money from boosters and others for giving out autographs and merchandise. What became even more troubling was that we have now heard multiple stories about Manziel allegedly taking money for autographs from several sources, so the water is getting to be a bit rough right now for “Johnny Football” in his effort to maintain NCAA eligibility in 2013. While we may not think of these scandals as terribly damaging, the NCAA has very strict policies when it comes to players receiving money from boosters and other things. With the season scheduled to start in just a few weeks, this news is troubling and distracting, however, I’m not sure that any scandal will cause Johnny to miss any games here in 2013 as it can often be a long and drawn out process to suspend any players for NCAA violations.
2013 Season Outlook
My gut feeling regarding the 2013 season is that “Johnny Football” will remain eligible to play for Texas A and M, and any potential NCAA discipline for scandals or off the field issues won’t be handed out anytime soon, and I believe that Johnny will complete his 2013 season with the Aggies. Here is a glimpse at the 2013 Texas A and M Schedule, which is one that should be quite a treat for fans in general, assuming “Johnny Football” plays this season. NFL scouts for certain will be following this schedule very closely, as will football junkies like you and I of course.
|2013 Texas A&M Football Schedule|
|Saturday||Aug. 31||Rice||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Sept. 7||Sam Houston State||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Sept. 14||Alabama*||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Sept. 21||SMU||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Sept. 28||at Arkansas*||Fayetteville, Ark.||TBA|
|Saturday||Oct. 12||at Ole Miss*||Oxford, Miss.||TBA|
|Saturday||Oct. 19||Auburn*||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Oct. 26||Vanderbilt*||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Nov. 9||Mississippi State*||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Nov. 16||New Mexico||Kyle Field||TBA|
|Saturday||Nov. 23||at LSU*||Baton Rouge, La.||TBA|
|Saturday||Nov. 30||at Missouri*||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|Saturday||Dec. 7||SEC Championship Game||Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
NFL Scouting Report – Johnny Manziel
While Johnny Manziel’s 2013 NCAA season is up in the air right now, it is important to remember that the NFL and dynasty owners like us cannot have that much of a concern about NCAA scandals in the big picture. Manziel has what scouts call the “IT” factor as you can see him as a natural born football player with great leadership and intangibles. “Johnny Football” is seen as a winner that could make any team better by having him around. Manziel’s speed and athleticism stand out as elite, especially now that the NFL is more welcoming towards mobile quarterbacks, and his passing arm strength and accuracy are also very spot on, and it is clear that he has an NFL arm that could succeed at the next level. Manziel is also very good at scrambling, avoiding sacks, and turning broken plays into positive plays. At 6 foot 1 and just over 200 pounds, I’m sure NFL scouts would like “Johnny Football” to be a bit taller and bigger, however, recent success stories of smaller quarterbacks like Russell Wilson have helped to make NFL scouts more comfortable with smaller quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel. The off the field issues will still remain a concern at the NFL level, especially if Johnny is seen partying a bit too much or more concerned with having a celebrity lifestyle, but overall the positive “IT” factor outweighs any off the field concerns in my opinion.
NFL Draft Outlook: 2014
I predict that “Johnny Football” will be drafted somewhere in the mid to late first round of the 2014 NFL draft, and will be the 3rd or 4th quarterback drafted in this particular class. Plenty of teams in my opinion will be willing to roll the dice that Johnny Manziel is their team’s “chosen one” and would be willing to take him despite whatever issues or scandals are going on at the time. At the very least, having “Johnny Football” on board gives an NFL team publicity, media attention, and ticket and merchandise sales, which is a win-win situation for any NFL team, despite whatever risks the franchise will be taking by drafting Johnny.
In next year’s Dynasty rookie draft, I’d expect “Johnny Football” to go in the mid to late first round, and I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on drafting him if you are in the right spot. I hate doing comparisons to NFL legends, but “Johnny Football” reminds me quite a bit of a young Brett Favre, in that you have a guy with the “IT” factor, with natural football skills, and a whole lot of swagger and charisma, someone not afraid to go out and “ball” if that makes sense. I’m not as concerned about his off the field issues as others are, considering that he was an overnight celebrity at such a young age, and its tough to tell how any of us would’ve handled the success and celebrity status that “Johnny Football” achieved in such a short amount of time. The lure of “Johnny Football” is just too enticing for a good dynasty owner to pass up, especially an owner in need of a quarterback, or someone without a lot of needs and having a “luxury” pick. “Johnny Football” can certainly be classified as a “boom or bust” type prospect, but the excitement, fun, and intangibles he can bring to your team is just too much to pass up!