Johnny Manziel among finalists in 2012 Heisman race

By Chandler Smith

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, alongside Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, was named one of three finalists Monday for the Heisman Memorial Trophy, an award granted to the most outstanding individual player in college football.

Manziel concluded the season passing for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading Texas A&M to its first 10-win season since 1998. He will look to become A&M’s second Heisman award winner since 1957 winner John David Crow under then-head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

In a release from the Texas A&M athletic department, Manziel said he’s proud to represent A&M in the Heisman Award ceremony.

“I’m overwhelmed by this tremendous honor of representing Texas A&M, the 12th Man and all my teammates in New York,” Manziel said. “This is a dream come true for me and I know it’s a credit to all my coaches and teammates. I definitely wouldn’t be a Heisman finalist without my teammates and coaches.”

Manziel’s 4,600 total yards smashes the SEC record for yardage in a season — previously held by 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton — a feat the A&M signal caller achieved in two fewer games. His 576 total yards against Louisiana Tech was an SEC record for yardage in a game and he is the only freshman to reach 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in a season.

Through his accomplishments, Manziel earned Associated Press SEC Offensive Player and Freshman of the Year honors. In addition to his Heisman Trophy candidacy, Manziel is also a Maxwell and Davey O’Brien Award finalist. The Maxwell and Davey O’Brien honors are awarded to the college player of the year and best quarterback of the year, respectively.

Several polls already have Manziel clinching the most prestigious individual hardware in the sport, including Heisman Pundit, USA Today and the Scripps Howard Heisman poll.
Olin Buchanan, a Heisman Trophy voter and writer for, said while Manziel was projected to win the trophy, he could meet some resistance.

“I do think that, going forward, all of the polls have Manziel winning it,” Buchanan said. “Some have said that he’ll win by a really slim margin and other polls have him winning by a larger margin. I think he’ll win it but I think anytime there’s a Notre Dame player, you can speculate he’s going to win. But you can’t take it for granted because Notre Dame always gets so much attention.”

A win by any of the three candidates would make history. Klein would be the first Kansas State player to win the trophy while Te’o would be the first linebacker to achieve the award. If Manziel wins, he will be the first freshman to win the award and the lowest classification to win since Tim Tebow in 2007.

In an opening statement before a Manziel teleconference, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said his youthful gunslinger was an integral piece to A&M’s success in its inaugural SEC season.

“As we’ve gone through this process, he’s been a catalyst for this football team in the first season in the SEC,” Sumlin said. “[Manziel is] a tremendous competitor, a tremendous leader and something that you really don’t see in a player as a redshirt freshman. All his leadership on and off the field has made this season a real successful one.”

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