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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel said he’s had a “surreal” season and that becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player would be a dream come true.
Manziel yesterday spoke with the media for the first time this season, with a conference call that came three days after the Aggies completed the regular season with a 10-2 in their debut in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin’s policy that freshmen can’t speak with the media ended following the team’s regular-season finale.
Manziel, 19, has emerged as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner after a season in which he’s totaled 4,600 yards of offense to break the SEC record of 4,327 set by former Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton during his Heisman-winning 2010 campaign. Manziel has passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 1,181 yards and 19 scores.
“This season has been incredibly surreal,” Manziel said. “It’s beyond my wildest imagination. It’s a true testament to how this team has grown each and every week, because without these guys none of my individual success would be anything.”
Manziel, a 6-foot-1 redshirt freshman from Kerrville, Texas, said he used to fantasize about winning the Heisman while playing college football video games as a youth.
“When you’re sitting there playing all these NCAA games as a kid and you create a player and you win the Heisman as a freshman because you just put up crazy numbers, it’s something you can only sit back and dream about,” Manziel said. “It’s the biggest, most prestigious award in college football, so it would definitely be a dream come true.”
Nicknamed “Johnny Football,” Manziel is the 2-5 favorite to become the first freshman to win the Heisman, according to online sportsbook Bovada.lv. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is the second favorite at 5-2 to receive the trophy on Dec. 8, followed by Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o at 4-1.
He threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns in an upset victory over defending national champion and then top-ranked Alabama this month. In last week’s season-ending 59-29 win against Missouri, Manziel threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more to lead the Aggies to their first 10-win season since 1998.
The only Texas A&M player to win the award was halfback John David Crow in 1957 and Manziel said the attention he’s received this season has been “extremely different.”
“I’m a small-town kid and I still see myself that way,” Manziel said. “I don’t see myself as Johnny Football. I’m just extremely fortunate and extremely blessed to be playing football at A&M. Whenever I go out to dinner and people come up to me and want to take pictures, I guess I’m kind of still shocked even though it’s kind of becoming a daily thing.”
Manziel said for now he’s focused on preparing for the team’s postseason bowl game and not on the Heisman Trophy even though his offensive numbers are better than the past two SEC quarterbacks to win the award: Newton and Tim Tebow.
“Whatever is meant to be will happen,” Manziel said. “I’m just doing whatever Coach Sumlin and them ask me to do right now as far as resting and getting ready for bowl practices and making sure our team stays focused to come out and take care of business in a bowl game. The Heisman and all the other awards like that, they’ll play themselves out.”
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