- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has had a busy December.
This is no secret to Aggies fans or anybody who follows the 20-year-old redshirt freshman quarterback on Twitter. Manziel, who became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 8, has been all around the country since the regular season ended, from award shows in Orlando and New York City, a talk show in Los Angeles and NFL and NBA games around the state of Texas.
He started the month attending TCU's season finale against Oklahoma in Fort Worth, followed by the Cowboys-Eagles game the next day at Cowboys Stadium. The next week was full of award-show festivities in Orlando and New York then on Dec. 10 he read the "Top 10" list on The Late Show with David Letterman.
After attending Texas A&M's annual football awards banquet on Dec. 14, he headed to Los Angeles for a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Then came back-to-back NBA games at Toyota Center (Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers) and American Airlines Center in Dallas (Mavericks vs. Miami Heat).
He capped off the whirlwind with another appearance at Cowboys Stadium for the Saints and Cowboys, then played golf the next day with the Jonas Brothers.
"I have been enjoying it," Manziel told reporters at AT&T Cotton Bowl media day on Sunday. "I have been enjoying all the stuff that has come with it. I am a big sports fan. All of you know about going to the basketball game and the football game. It is just something that I enjoy. People just didn’t know I went before, but I still went but people didn’t care to write about it."
While some Aggies fans might be concerned if "Johnny Football" has lost focus, Manziel, the Southeastern Conference's single-season record holder for total yards, maintains it won't have a negative effect on him as he and his teammates prepare for the Cotton Bowl clash with Oklahoma on Friday.
"We are still focused," Manziel said. "We are still going to practice, still going to workouts, still watching film, still doing the same stuff as always just enjoying a little bit along the way."
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said he has spoken with his quarterback about all the attention coming his way.
"Sure I have talked to him about it," Sumlin said. "Winning the Heisman should not be a punishment. It is a unique situation that we have in that we have freshman that has won the highest award given in college football. It has never happened before. It is completely different situation than anybody has ever had. Usually you are looking at a player’s last game, the bowl game he is playing in, or he may play one more year, that’s it. This is a redshirt freshman."
Sumlin understands the uniqueness of the situation and cautioned expecting too much from the Kerrville (Texas) Tivy product while also allowing Manziel to be himself.
"You have to be careful about heaping on too much of what the expectations are for a young man," Sumlin said. "As I said we have to be very, very cognizant of what is going on. I think he understands that. But at the same time, a lot of things that have made him who he is right now, all of sudden you can’t shut that off.”
The travels of Johnny Manziel
Dec. 1: Oklahoma vs. TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth
Dec. 2: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington
Dec. 5-6: Home Depot College Football Awards in Orlando, Fla.
Dec. 7-8: Heisman Trophy Ceremony in New York City
Dec. 10: The Late Show with David Letterman, New York City
Dec. 14: Texas A&M football awards banquet
Dec. 16: Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Los Angeles
Dec. 19: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets at Toyota Center, Houston
Dec. 20: Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center, Dallas
Dec. 23: New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington
Dec. 24: Golf outing with the Jonas Brothers, Joe and Nick Jonas
3dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon