Thursday, January 31, 2013
The One Who Got Away: Johnny Manziel
By Brandon P. Oliver
Most programs would dwell on the fact that they lost a future Heisman Trophy winner after earning his commitment.
Johnny Manziel made Heisman Trophy history, but the Oregon Ducks have no problem with their current quarterback from the same recruiting class.
Luckily for the Oregon Ducks, getting a commitment from Marcus Mariota made losing Johnny Manziel from the Class of 2011 easy to absorb. Mariota and Manziel both committed to the Ducks within two weeks of ESPN 150 QB Jerrard Randall doing the same.
At the time, most followers were focused on Randall, who was the biggest name at the time. Randall eventually signed with LSU after academic issues with Oregon and is currently enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M and Mariota had a fabulous redshirt freshman season with the Ducks.
It's funny how recruiting works, isn't it?
When Manziel and Mariota committed within days of Randall, it didn't cause much of a reaction either way. When Manziel received an in-state offer from Texas A&M, he flipped from the Ducks to the Aggies. Oregon fans didn't seem to bat an eyelash when he departed because they had Randall on board and that's all that mattered.
Most programs would be devastated by thoughts of "what could have been" if they had a commitment from a recruit who went on to win the Heisman Trophy while leading his team to its best season in decades. But Mariota led the Ducks to a 12-1 season, a Fiesta Bowl victory and the No. 2 national ranking in his freshman season.
Randall was the No. 8 QB in the Class of 2011. Manziel was No. 39. Mariota was No. 123.
Some decommitments truly hurt a program, but luckily for the Ducks, the most high-profile decommit in recent years is one that has had no ill effects.