A calendar year can be exactly that for some people: A full calendar year. For others, namely superstar Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, one year can bring what feels like an entire lifetime of change.
Prior to the kickoff of the 2012 football season, Manziel was just another undersized redshirt freshman competing for a starting role with his team. By the time the final whistle was sounding on the Aggies’ Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma, Manziel had a new nickname (Johnny Football), the all-time SEC single-season yardage record (5,116), a Heisman Trophy, and finally a hand in 11 wins, the most for a Texas A&M team since 1998.
Needless to say, that is a lot to put on anyone’s plate, let alone a kid who still cannot have a drink legally.
However, in an exclusive interview with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herstreit, Manziel wants people to know that while it has been extremely tough at times, he has not lost sight of who he is. He has not changed.
“I still see myself as the same person I was before,” the sophomore quarterback said.
“If somebody wants to come up to me and freak out, I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. We did a lot of great things. I’ve been so blessed to have done the things I did individually. For me, I don’t see it that way. I still see myself as young, the same guy I was before I ever won the Heisman. Hopefully my friends still feel I’m the same way. I just want people to know I’m still the same person I’ve always been,” he said.
Rumors have been running rampant as Texas A&M opened spring practices that coach Kevin Sumlin has already been preparing for life after Johnny Football in College Station. Recent word was that Manziel was also eyeing the 2014 NFL Draft, and he did not shoot down such a proposition in his interview.
“You never know how things might play out. If an opportunity comes to go to the NFL, you have to look at that just like you have to look at everything,” he said.
“For me, the NFL is the thing that’s always been, kind of somewhat like the Heisman, it’s been a dream as a kid to be able to have an opportunity to even be talked about being able to play in the NFL,” he said. “For me I’m enjoying my time here for sure and if that comes calling, just like anybody else, the decision will have to be made. I’m very happy here and very happy with Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and in college football. I love it.”
After spending the 2011 season sitting behind Ryan Tannehill and running scout team practices, Manziel blew the nation away as a first-year starter in 2012.
With Alabama headed to town in Week 2 of the 2013 season, that nation will have an early-season chance to see what Johnny Football can do for an encore.