Texas A&M Aggies: 2013 SEC top 25 countdown

The SEC's best 25 players: No. 2

August, 23, 2013
The next player on our countdown of the SEC's best 25 players appropriately wears the number two, but was No. 1 in last year's Heisman race.

No. 2: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M, RSo.

2012 summary: All Manziel did as a redshirt freshman was become a consensus first-team All-American and All-SEC performer. Oh, and he became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy after breaking the SEC single-season record for total offensive yards (5,116). Manziel won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best quarterback and was third in the SEC in passing with 3,706 yards. He also threw 26 touchdowns to nine interceptions and led the SEC with 1,410 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. Manziel ended the year averaging a league-high 7 yards per carry and had a passer rating of 155.3.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 1 in the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Manziel: There's no question that Manziel was the most exciting player in college football last year. He dazzled with his legs and made tons of plays with his arm. He was slippery when he danced around the pocket, and once he got free, defenses could only hope to slow him down. Stopping him completely rarely happened. Offensively, there isn't another player in the country who can touch Manziel's excitement factor. He took down mighty Alabama last year after compiling 345 total yards and two beautiful passing touchdowns in the Aggies' 29-24 upset of the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Defenses couldn't give Manziel too much time in the pocket because he could pick them apart with his arm. But bringing too much pressure allowed him to slide by defenders and hurt teams with his speed and elusiveness. His ability to improvise so well made defenses look silly all year long, as he finished the 2012 season with six games in which he threw for 200-plus yards and rushed for 100-plus yards. The Aggies went undefeated when he did that, but when he rushed for 60 yards or less (twice), the Aggies lost. Manziel averaged 286.1 passing yards and 87.2 rushing yards against SEC defenses last fall and finished his first year as A&M's starter with a bowl-record 516 total yards in the Aggies' 41-13 blowout win over No. 11 Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Having Manziel No. 2 will likely cause a stir, but his off-field issues could have an impact on his 2013 season. His eligibility has been called into question as the NCAA investigates whether he was paid for signing hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia. Manziel also lost his top receiver, left tackle and offensive coordinator.

The rundown

The SEC's best 25 players: No. 6

August, 19, 2013
The next player in our countdown of the SEC's best 25 players could have left early for the NFL following the 2012 season, but is now looking to be the first left tackle taken in next year's draft.

No. 6: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M, Sr.

2012 summary: The third-team All-American and All-SEC member started at right tackle for the Aggies in 2012. He helped a line that blocked for the SEC's best offense last season. Texas A&M led the SEC in rushing, passing, scoring and total offense and ranked third nationally in total offense and scoring offense. He also served as the team's long-snapper.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 16 in the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Matthews: After having a very impressive year as the Aggies' anchor on the right side, Matthews is moving to left tackle to replace All-American and Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel. He has very big shoes to fill, but not many people think Texas A&M or Matthews will miss much of a beat with his move. He'll enter the 2013 season as an Outland Trophy candidate, and with his three years of starting experience, he shouldn't have much trouble adjusting to a new position. Matthews has very strong football bloodlines running through his body and would have been a first-round draft pick if he had decided to leave Texas A&M early this year. If he makes the successful transition to left tackle like people expect him to, Matthews should play himself right into the top part of the draft, just like Joeckel. He has so much talent that he's already considered one of the best left tackles in the country, and he hasn't even taken any snaps there as a starter yet. Matthews is a big body at 6-5, 305 pounds, but he moves very well and has tremendous strength. He's great in pass protection and blocks the run well, too, making him the complete package at the most important position along the offensive line.

The rundown


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