Friday, December 7, 2012
What they've said about Johnny Football
By Sam Khan Jr.
Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Johnny Manziel has wowed the college football world with his performance this season. With his production (4,600 total yards, 43 touchdowns responsible for), his athleticism and his knack for making highlight-reel-worthy plays, turning the impossible to possible, he has received significant praise from teammates, coaches, opponents and media.
We'll find out Saturday night whether he'll become the first freshman in college football history to take home the sport's most coveted individual award. In the meantime, here's a glance at some of the comments made about Manziel throughout this season:
• "Johnny Manziel is a fantastic athlete." -- Florida coach Will Muschamp, after the Gators' 20-17 win over Texas A&M in the Aggies' season opener Sept. 8.
• "With Johnny, of course, he's Captain Amazing back there, not getting sacked ... Johnny Football, Captain Amazing, I'm pretty sure next week we'll have another [nickname] for him. It's a growing legend going on." -- Texas A&M receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu, after a 48-3 win over SMU on Sept. 15.
• "I'm not saying that this guy is Brett Favre, but he does have that type of ability to deliver from a lot of different angles." -- Fox Sports Net color commentator Tim Couch, during Aggies' 70-14 win over South Carolina State on Sept. 22.
• "He is a special football player. He is like the kid in the neighborhood that no one can stop, nobody run with him, nobody can jump with him, catch or throw with him. He is just that special player for this offense." -- Texas A&M center Patrick Lewis, after the 58-10 win over Arkansas on Sept. 29.
• "Johnny Manziel looks like Red Grange as he runs through the Hogs. He should wear a leather helmet." -- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writer Bob Holt, via Twitter (@BobHoltADG)
• "Johnny Football, with a night to remember!" -- Joe Davis, ESPN play-by-play announcer during Manziel's 72-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 13.
• "It wasn’t fun chasing Manziel all day." -- LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo, after the Tigers' 24-19 win over Texas A&M on Oct. 20.
• “I’ve been around longer than most, and most of our players can’t relate to this, but this guy reminds me of Doug Flutie. He can throw it. He’s not great big in stature or anything like that, [but] he’s extremely quick and very instinctive, has a unique ability to extend plays, and seems to know when to take off and run." -- Alabama coach Nick Saban on Nov. 5, days before the Crimson Tide faced Manziel and the Aggies.
• "Can't teach that, can ya? And you can't defend that." -- CBS color commentator Gary Danielson, after Manziel lost the ball, caught it and threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Swope in an upset win over Alabama on Nov. 10.
• "The best college football player in the United States on Saturday was Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. And he's been that guy quite a few Saturdays this year ... If the award is going to be for the most outstanding football player, for the guy who makes the biggest difference, there's no question who that is. It's Johnny Manziel. So I'm looking at you, fellow Heisman voters. If you're not thinking of voting for Johnny Manziel, you're nuts." -- Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples, after A&M's win over Alabama.
• "He's the most competitive guy I've ever been around since Brett Favre," -- Former Texas A&M quarterbacks coach Tom Rossley, who recruited Manziel and coached Favre as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers.
• "I have never seen a more exciting and productive player than Johnny Football. He deserves to win the Heisman." -- Former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, via Twitter (@rcslocum)
• "Manziel is amazing. He's been fun to watch. There's been times when you're talking about it on the radio and 'I don't know how he got out of there.' He's like a Houdini of sorts." -- Texas A&M Sports Network radio play-by-play announcer Dave South, in an interview with 1130 AM The Tiger in Shreveport, La.
• "If #JohnnyFootball isn't the best, most productive, most exciting player in the country, who is? #Heismanwatch" -- ESPN Radio host Mike Greenberg, via Twitter (@espngreeny)
• "If you look at his numbers and what he has done compared to everyone else who's playing the game, they speak for themselves. I'll take it a step further. If you look at his numbers for a season compared to anyone else who has played the game in one season, they speak for themselves too." -- Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on Nov. 20, days before the Aggies' season finale against Missouri.
• "He has a tremendous amount of instinct -- and I'm not trying to take anything away from the coaches because they're doing a great job -- but he's got so much talent and instinct, things that you can't coach, I don't think. And he uses it." -- John David Crow, former Texas A&M running back and the 1957 Heisman Trophy winner, the only Heisman winner in A&M history to date.
• "Was part of Football Writers All-American panel selecting defensive team today. Was tempted to vote for Johnny Manziel at every position." -- Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls, via Twitter (@kbohls)
• "Hopefully, they don't rob him like they did me. I hope he wins." -- Minnesota Vikings running back and former Oklahoma Sooner and Heisman Trophy finalist Adrian Peterson.
And perhaps the most memorable quote, at least for Texas A&M fans, about Manziel all season comes courtesy of LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, talking to local reporters after finding out that the Aggies upset then-No. 1 Alabama.
• "Johnny Football is nothing to play with ... My hat's off to Johnny Football. If there's anybody that should win the Heisman, Sam Montgomery's vote would be in for Johnny Football. You wonder why we didn't have any pass rush that game? Johnny Football makes you not pass rush. He makes you sit back and have to play him. You have to make him a passer. That kid is unbelievable. I just don't know how to stop him."
On his first thought when he heard Alabama had been upset:
• "Johnny Football. That's the first thing that popped in my mind. Does anybody know the stats? Because I bet you Johnny Football had one marvelous performance. A couple touchdowns, I know he had some passing yards and some running yards. He's the quarterback and he's the leading rusher in the SEC. Heisman. Give it to him."