ON SPORTS: Heisman vote for Texas A&M freshman quarterback is no joke
Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:08 a.m.
My father-in-law is no Aggie and he wasn't joking.
He called on the Saturday following Thanksgiving and after an exchange of pleasantries and some family talk, got down to business.
He wanted to know who I was voting for the Heisman Trophy.
I had barely uttered my usual non-committal response, when he said, "Johnny Manziel."
I nearly dropped the phone. He lives in San Antonio and was aware of the Texas A&M quarterback when he played at Kerrville Tivy.
But my father-in-law has never met an Aggie joke he doesn't like and has never missed a chance to tease his grand kids about becoming Aggies.
The emails I received from the A&M athletic department and Aggies fans supporting Manziel were not a surprise.
But some of the people urging me to vote for him were.
When a University of Texas graduate asks if you would vote for a freshman for the Heisman Trophy, you know something out of the ordinary is happening.
Not that I needed to be reminded. I saw it with my own eyes.
A redshirt freshman quarterback playing in college football's toughest conference and leading his team to a 10-2 record with record-setting numbers gets your attention.
I never bought into the orange-tinted line that A&M wouldn't be able to compete in the Southeastern Conference.
But the Aggies fared better than I expected.
Not all the credit should go to Manziel. Kevin Sumlin's coaching and a strong offensive line had a lot to do with A&M's success.
But without Manziel pulling the trigger, I don't believe it happens.
Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns.
He became the first freshman, the first SEC player and the fifth player overall to throw for over 3,000 yards and run for a 1,000 yards in a season.
What impressed me the most about Manziel was his performance against Alabama.
I'm not referring to the first half when the Aggies built a big lead.
Manziel's poise in the second half when Alabama rallied, as I expected it would, was critical in A&M holding on for the win.
He performed at a high level against tough competition, before a hostile crowd and under extremely difficult circumstances.
As for him becoming the first freshman to win the award, I defer to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
Stoops' team will face Manziel in the Cotton Bowl and he coached Adrian Peterson when he finished second in the Heisman voting as a freshman in 2004.
"A player is a player, it shouldn't matter what age he is," Stoops said.
Manziel was only offered a scholarship by two schools in Texas - Texas A&M and Rice - according to his high school coach Mark Smith and was originally committed to Oregon.
Texas A&M is fortunate Manziel wanted to stay closer to home.
He's helped the Aggies to become a force to be reckoned with in Texas and the SEC.
Aggies perfer to call Manziel, "Johnny Football."
I'll call him the player who got my vote for the Heisman Trophy.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.