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ON SPORTS: Johnny Football gives Aggies season to remember and one to anticipate

Jan. 9, 2013 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 9, 2013 at 7:10 p.m.

Texas A&m quarterback Johnny Manziel was nearly unstoppable against Oklahoma in last Friday's Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, racking up over 500 yards of total offense. His 229 rushing yards is the most by a quarterback in any bowl game.

A Season to Remember

Johnny Manziel's 2012 season statistics.

Passing: 295-434-9 3,706 yards, 26 TDs

Rushing: 201-1,410 yards, 21 TDs

Scoring: 126 points

About the only thing Johnny Manziel didn't do against the Oklahoma defense was strike the Heisman Trophy pose.

The Sooners have probably dreamed about that since the Aggies' 41-13 Cotton Bowl win at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

"Best player I've ever played," said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "He does so many good things. He's got magic. He'll have a chance to win four (Heismans) if he stays healthy."

This is not an I told you so column, even though I'm feeling pretty good about my Heisman vote for Manziel.

Actually, I disagree with Stoops.

I think Manziel could become the first player to win four Heisman Trophy awards.

But I doubt he'll be around much longer than next season and maybe one other before moving on to the NFL.

Fans don't get a true sense of how quick he is until watching him play in person.

I think Calhoun coach Richard Whitaker would agree after his team played against Manziel when he was the quarterback at Kerrville Tivy.

Manziel has the ability to wait until containment breaks or a rusher gets out of his lane before taking off running.

He also sees the field better than many quarterbacks and can make an accurate throw after moving up in the pocket or out of the pocket to avoid a rusher.

Manziel doesn't appear to have as strong of an arm as Robert Griffin III, but he became more precise as the season progressed and he learned when not to throw the ball, which was just as important.

There were also questions about how Manziel would handle winning the Heisman Trophy, and if all the public appearances would interfere with his preparation for the Cotton Bowl.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin insisted he had no such worries.

"With us playing the 4th, we had plenty of time to get grounded, get these guys, including myself," he said. "I felt like I lived in New York, Orlando, going back and forth. But we had plenty of time and our guys understood the plan.

"I said beforehand everybody was worried. It gave us a chance to get guys away, get home for Christmas, then get back, get us a couple practices back at Texas A&M, get up here and get some work done."

Manziel set a Cotton Bowl record with 516 total yards, including 229 yards rushing, the most by a quarterback in any bowl game.

He scoffed at the notion that he wouldn't be ready to play against Oklahoma.

"There is too much talk about how you perform after the Heisman and about the layoff and all that," Manziel said. "There wasn't anything holding us back. No rust, there was no nothing."

The question Texas A&M fans are asking is what to expect next season.

They want to know if Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy, the Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma and finishing No. 5 in The Associated Press poll will carry over.

The Aggies have a favorable schedule. Their toughest road game figures to be late in the season against LSU.

They also travel to play Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri.

Their biggest test should come at Kyle Field on Sept. 14 against two-time defending national champion Alabama.

From all reports, recruiting is going very well. Texas A&M's move to the Southeastern Conference is paying dividends with high school prospects.

Nine players, including four junior college transfers, have enrolled at Texas A&M for the upcoming semester and will join the team for spring drills.

The Aggies will have to replace some talented players such as offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and defensive lineman Damonte Moore, who are making themselves eligible for the NFL draft.

But as long as No. 2 stays healthy, the Aggies figure to have a chance for an even more memorable season.

"It depends on how hard people want to work in the offseason," Manziel said. "I'm going to call guys up and ask them, 'How hard do we want this?' Do we want to have all this hype and not back it up, or do we want to grind in the summer? I think if we want to put in the work, the sky's the limit for this team."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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