Texas A&M Aggies: Tom Rossley

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.

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How Johnny Manziel ended up an Aggie 

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
8:30
AM ET
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Tom Rossley and Mark Smith knew each other well. Rossley, the former Texas A&M quarterbacks coach, recruited the San Antonio and surrounding areas when Smith was the head coach at Kerrville (Texas) Tivy, a small town outside of San Antonio.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesAggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has accounted for 3,794 yards and 33 touchdowns this season.
Smith generally enjoyed his conversations with Rossley when the two visited and felt comfortable enough to be bluntly honest with him, particularly when it came to the subject of Smith's then-star quarterback, Johnny Manziel.

Rossley recruited Manziel while at Texas A&M and liked virtually everything he saw, from his athleticism to his throwing ability. Like many college coaches, there's a wish list when it comes to quarterbacks, and height is on that list. That wasn't Manziel's strong suit, as the dual-threat quarterback stood just 6-foot-1.

Smith recalled the story from a coaching friend of his who used to be an assistant at Austin (Texas) Westlake. The way the story goes, a different former Texas A&M assistant stopped by Westlake in the mid-1990s and checked out a relatively small-statured but strong-armed quarterback named Drew Brees. The A&M assistant told the Westlake coaches that Brees was a little too short and had too awkward a throwing motion for the Aggies.

"So I looked at Tom and I told him the same story," Smith recalls. "And I said, 'Tom, I can remember you as the guy who made the greatest decision of your life or I can remember you like that other coach that I did that didn't recruit a Super Bowl-winner. I don't know which one you want to be, but it's up to you. I wouldn't worry about his height because he's going to win for you.'"

Fortunately for the Aggies, Rossley convinced head coach Mike Sherman that Manziel's lack of prototypical quarterback height was worth overlooking. And Smith's prophetic words are proving true as Manziel has become perhaps the brightest young star in college football this year, leading the No. 8 Aggies to an 8-2 record and, most recently, an upset road win over then-No. 1 Alabama.

The young man dubbed "Johnny Football" is breaking records and is a Heisman Trophy candidate, but coming out of high school he was an intriguing yet often-overlooked prospect.

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