The Heisman Case For ... Johnny Manziel
Posted Nov 20, 2012

Tuesday Question: The Heisman Case For Johnny Manziel

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

Even though no freshman has ever won college football's most coveted award, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel should win the Heisman Trophy. After all, he's clearly the most outstanding player in college football this season.

A quick look at the stats will bear this out. Manziel is the most dynamic QB in the SEC, leading the conference in rushing yards per game, rushing touchdowns, and total offense. He's been equally deadly as a passer, ranking first in the SEC in completion percentage and throwing 21 TDs against only 7 picks. More importantly, Manziel has a knack for getting his team in the end zone, accounting for 38 total TDs. That's more than 50 FBS teams have scored this season.

What's most impressive about these numbers is that he compiled them against some of the best defenses in college football. If turning in solid efforts against three top ten units (Florida, LSU, and Alabama) doesn't scream out "the nation's most outstanding player," what does?

Another reason why Manziel should win the Heisman Trophy is because he's been the most consistent QB in the country this year. Sure, he only had 230 total yards against Florida, but that was his first collegiate start, which came against a Gator defense that had the benefit of playing a game. Aside from his so-so showing against Will Muschamp's defense, Manziel has been absolutely brilliant in conference play, posting at least 300 yards in every contest, including LSU and Alabama. By comparison, fellow Heisman contenders Collin Klein and Braxton Miller each failed to eclipse the 300-yard plateau in at least four conference games.

However, the biggest reason why Manziel should win college football's highest honor won't necessarily show up in any box score. Remember, Texas A&M limped to a 7-6 record last year with future Top Ten draft pick Ryan Tannehill playing QB. With the Aggies joining the SEC West this season, it looked like a rebuilding year in College Station.

It didn't happen that way. Manziel won the starting gig early in fall camp and never looked back. As the numbers above show, he's done nothing but make plays all season long. Whether it's on the ground, through the air, or using his elusiveness to keep the play going, Manziel has been the difference maker for the Aggies this season, leading the team to a 9-2 record in the nation's toughest division.

That last sentence should speak volumes about how well Manziel has played this year. How often does a freshman transform a team from an also-ran to an attractive at-large team for a BCS bowl? More importantly, how often does a first-year starter play better than an NFL lottery pick?

The answer: almost never. It would take a once-in-a-generation type of player to accomplish those feats.

However, that's exactly what Johnny Football has done this season, distinguishing himself as the nation's most outstanding player.