Quarterback Johnny Manziel named starter
Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2012 18:08
For the past decade plus, Texas A&M has been absorbed in a whirlwind of tight quarterback competitions. Truth be told, deciding upon a new offensive leader every few years has emerged as one of the program’s most revered traditions.
New head coach Kevin Sumlin resolved this offseason’s central position battle late Wednesday evening, announcing Johnny Manziel the starter for A&M’s season-opener against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 30.
“My policy is simple really; the best player plays,” Sumlin said. “Johnny (Manziel) has performed the best at this stage and we will proceed until the season opener with him getting first-team reps.”
The 6-foot-1-inch 200-pound Kerrville Tivy product, a redshirt freshman, earned the leading role after a series of polarizing performances throughout spring and fall drills.
Replacing the Miami Dolphins eighth overall draft selection in Ryan Tannehill will provide a challenge for both the young quarterback and his first-year head coach.
Fortunately, Sumlin has garnered a reputation for molding raw talent into deadly offensive forces. While at Houston, the Aggies’ new top dog built 2011 NCAA passing leader Case Keenum from the ground up.
Following Manziel’s senior season at Tivy, he received Parade All-American honors and both the National High School Coaches’ Association and Texas Associated Press sports editor Player of the Year awards.
He threw for 3,609 yards and 45 touchdowns with just five interceptions, completing over 65 percent of his passes.
Put succinctly, Sumlin has inherited raw talent on a biblical scale.
Following spring drills and the annual Maroon and White game in April, however, redshirt sophomore Jameill Showers led the pack. Manziel stood in as his backup while sophomore Matt Joeckel, twin of left tackle Luke Joeckel, fell in at third-string.
Over the course of the summer, Manziel’s luck continued to run out.
With his late June arrest for fighting and possession of a fake I.D along with Showers’ emergence as the potential starter, the once prodigal high school prospect had seemingly fallen from his pedestal.
During the fall scrimmage on Aug. 11, however, Manziel impressed coaches and fans alike by going 18-for-22 passing for 218 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
“Johnny is a creator,” Sumlin told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s worked on his motion and from what we saw in the spring he’s able to move around and extend plays, and create some other offense after that.”
“What he’s worked on is his ability to sit in (the pocket) a little bit more and make decisions. The key between (Manziel and Showers) is decision making.”
Leading the Aggies into their inaugural season with the Southeastern Conference, Manziel will be graded based on the coaching staff’s single most important statistic.
“Whoever puts the ball in the endzone the most,” offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury voiced to the Houston Chronicle. “That’s the bottom line.”
When it comes to college football, it’s as simple as whichever player can light up the scoreboard the brightest.
And Manziel is on track to help astronauts view College Station from space.