History was made last night as for the first time ever, a freshman won the Heisman Trophy, the most coveted individual award in college football.
Texas A&M quarterback Johhny Manziel, better known as “Johnny Football”, beat out Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, both seniors, for the award.
It is a fitting way to cap a breakout season for Manziel. Texas A&M was expected to struggle in its first year in the SEC after a disappointing 2011 season that saw head coach Mike Sherman fired and quarterback Ryan Tannehill head to the NFL.
Instead, Manziel–who didn’t even win the starting job until two weeks prior to the start of the season then had to wait as the opening game against Louisiana Tech was postponed–led the Aggies to a 10-2 regular season, #9 ranking, and date with Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Along the way, the Aggies upset previously undefeated and top-ranked Alabama, in Tuscaloosa no less, while befuddling defenses throughout the conference.
Manziel threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns to go along with another 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. He set, then broke, SEC records for total yards and became the first freshman, first SEC player, and just the fifth player ever to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a single season.
But statistics alone do not do Manziel justice. The guy is a football wizard with the improvisational skills of a jazz master. Words cannot truly describe his brilliance, but luckily Tecmo Bowl can.
Te’o and Klein were deserving players as well. Both were the heart-and-soul of their respective teams and took them to heights not seen in a long time. Klein is a hulking quarterback who led Kansas State to a Big 12 title and BCS bowl while coming within one game of playing for the national title. Te’o is the best player on the nation’s top-ranked team, a true do-it-all middle linebacker with 7 interceptions who anchors the country’s best defense and led the Fighting Irish to an undefeated season and a chance at their first national title since 1988.
In the end, however, their exploits weren’t enough to top those of Manziel. A relative unknown coming into this season, Johnny Football has now cemented in name in college football lore.