Have you seen Johnny Manziel play football? If the answer to that question is "no," please take some time out of your day and simply enjoy this short highlight package.
Have you watched it? Good. Do you want to see how a team plays when they know they have The One playing Quarterback? Want to see how a team who knows no play is ever dead sells out for their signal caller? Watch the Texas A&M receiving corps block, then watch them get rewarded with touchdowns. Now you have a base from which to work while I lay out the reasons why Johnny Manziel should be the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
A little over a year ago, Texas A&M decided to move to the SEC. Along with that move came expectations of failure from just about everyone in the sports world. A little more than a year before that, a kid from Kerrville, TX named Johnny Manziel was trying to get on an NCAA roster as a quarterback and was having little success in his home state. He lacked the size, see? Don't you get it? I mean, sure this kid was talented, but he was no quarterback. Well, here we are after Johnny's redshirt freshmen year and the Aggies pledge year in the SEC with the team standing at 10-2 and Johnny Manziel is the O'Brien Award Winner.
Manziel earned the starting position and never looked back. Detractors will tell you that Manziel (nee Football) didn't put up astronomical numbers against Florida and LSU. What they won't include in their counterarguments is that Florida was Johnny Football's first college game. The Aggies were two missed field goals and a missed extra point away from victory over LSU, which would have put them in the SEC championship game. In their first year. With a new coaching staff and a freshman quarterback. Starting LSU Defensive End Sam Montgomery walked away from that game with so much respect for Manziel that he issued this endorsement of him for the Heisman. Have you ever seen a rival player exalt an opponent with such sincerity?
This quarterback has matured faster than anyone could have expected and his infectious, competitive attitude has spread to the entire team and it's hungry, loyal fan base. By now, you've probably heard that Manziel broke Cam Newton's total offensive record of 4,327 yards in two fewer games. What that stat doesn't tell you is that during blowout wins, Manziel sat out nine full quarters. That's 2.25 games, bringing his actual playtime total to 9.75 games played. He also broke Archie Manning's single-game offensive record in his 557 yard, 4 touchdown performance against Arkansas. Two weeks later he broke his own SEC record with a 576 yard, 6 touchdown effort against Louisiana Tech. I could keep listing accomplishments for Johnny Football, but the list is just far too long to include here.
Then there was the Alabama game. Manziel made that first quarter look easy, didn't he? Completing throw after throw while running fearlessly through the dreaded Alabama defense, Manziel looked like a seasoned veteran in that historic game. It was a statement for him: I'm only getting better.
Freshman can't win the Heisman. Why? What about the fact that all of the above and more was done by a first-year player makes his statistics and wins any less impressive to you? If anything, it should be more so. You can't tell me that years mean anything when it comes to this award, it's all about the results. Those are clear.
The Heisman Trophy is given to the most outstanding player in college football. All three finalists are excellent athletes. They all play with passion, heart and desire to win. All three should be supremely proud of their seasons. Colin Klein is a warrior who plays the game with integrity. Manti Te'o is clearly the leader of a tough Notre Dame defense who has overcome tragedy that would make the most grizzled men weep. Both of these men deserve to be lauded by their respective fans and recognized at a national level for their accomplishments. While they are very deserving in their nomination, there is only one player who you can't help but watch when he's on the field: Johnny Manziel.
"Heisman. Give it to him."
Click here to read the case for why Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o should win the Heisman.
Click here to read the case for why Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein should win the Heisman.