Johnny Football. Johnny Heisman. Johnny Spring Break.
Lost amidst the hoopla of courtside seats to NBA games, hanging out with rappers, alleged payment-for-autographs and a zillion other offseason headlines is Johnny Manziel.
You may remember him, he plays quarterback at Texas A&M. After months of talk, speculation, and interviews; of drinks, wild nights and celebrities, Manziel is finally going to have the opportunity to do what he actually went to A&M to do: Play football.
Even as the cloud of an NCAA investigation into the aforementioned autographs scandal hangs over Manziel’s head, the redshirt sophomore continues to grow as a signal-caller. CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman was at a recent Aggies scrimmage and he reports that the gunslinger continues to simply blow people away with his God-given ability.
Now he is doing so with an increased focus on fundamentals as well.
Manziel’s command of the offense is evident, to A&M coaches, by the things that happen in the frenetic moments right before the ball is snapped when he sizes up the defense’s look and knows when to shift to a better play to attack rather than try and make something out of the one initially signaled in, says new A&M quarterback Jake Spavital.
“He’s got a lot more control of the offense now,” adds Spavital, noting how well the young QB made seemingly bad plays work in 2012.
Manziel’s evolution also comes from a newfound understanding that he and Spavital have sorted out his footwork for specific plays. So, for instance, the QB is throwing a 10-yard out from the far hash, Manziel now knows he must chop his footwork down shorter so the play times out better than if he’s throwing it from the near hash-mark (and the pass play requires less air-time).
Spavital would go on to praise Manziel’s abilities throwing the deep ball. At only 6-foot-1 and a shade more than 200 pounds, Manziel does not boast the prototypical size for a quarterback playing at such a high level, but that doesn’t mean he can’t fire the football.
Aggies defensive coordinator Mark Snyder was asked about a play Manziel made about a week ago in a closed scrimmage: The quarterback was chased by would-be-tacklers, reversed field, ran around for about 15 seconds and then fired a strike, flat-footed 40 yards downfield for a touchdown into the back of the endzone.
“Man, that’s every day,” the veteran coach replied.
As for fans of the college football game, we can only hope that we have the chance to see him doing amazing things on the field in two weeks’ time.