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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024
Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024

Opinion: Relentless Pursuit

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The Heisman Trophy has distinguished itself as the nation’s most prestigious individual award, not only among college football, but all sports. No other athletic honor holds the weight of the Heisman, and no other ever will.
Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy sits boldly within Texas A&M’s newly-renovated Bright Complex, directly opposite an identical version, 55 years older, owned by John David Crow. Manziel’s personal victory broke barriers within the sport’s preconceptions, as his unprecedented season deserved an equally unprecedented award to any athlete in his class.
The making-history part of Manziel’s Heisman storyline, though, is hardly the focus of this column. As the sophomore searches to become only the second athlete ever to repeat for the honor – Ohio State’s Archie Griffin being the first – I hope to reason as to why Manziel won last season and, more importantly, why he should again.
For any Heisman candidate, statistics are the immediate attraction, as their numerical value allows logical insight into how valued – in terms of football – a player is to his respective team. The lone fallback for the pure comparison of stats, though, is separation of opponents, as no Heisman contender plays the same schedule as any other.
Last season, Manziel earned recognition for groundbreaking numbers as he surpassed 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton’s offensive statistics in fewer games, breaking multiple program and conference records along the way.
Halfway into the 2013 season, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has continued to impress, but not at the level of last year. Currently, Manziel sits sixth in his adjusted quarterback ranking, a category in which he led the nation at last year’s conclusion.
Additionally, Manziel’s scoring capabilities have decreased as he is projected to find the endzone just 38 times this regular season, as opposed to 45 from last year. And while both his passing rate and projected throwing touchdowns are up, his scrambling has been significantly cut, as making plays with his legs have been reserved for special occasions only.
While the numbers may show regression, the impact is actually a designed methodology of A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff. The key for Sumlin has been Manziel’s increased maturity in the pocket, as he has noticeably forced himself to remain vigilant when passing.
“I think he’s done a better job of seeing the field and not bailing right away,” Sumlin said. “He’s used pretty good judgment in getting out of bounds and sliding. He’s probably slid more in the first five games than he slid all of last year, which is another sign of growing up. He’s protecting the football and not being reckless. What you also see is his understanding of the offense and freedom to adjust the play. He’s got some parameters, but he’s been able to get us into some good plays.”
Therefore, while voters may see a decrease in statistical prowess, A&M’s program magnetism has captured a national viewership, allowing fans and professionals alike to see Manziel’s development and maturation in the pocket.
The main component in both Manziel’s 2012 Heisman campaign and this year’s repeat attempt, though, is his overall influence in Texas A&M’s success both on and off the field.
In other words, what would A&M football look like without Manziel under center?
A brief overview of that horrid scenario: the Aggies would have a hard time flirting with, much less being a part of, the Top 25. Preseason national title hopes? A lame joke. Heisman contender? Not even on the program’s radar.
Through seven weeks of play, Manziel remains locked in a close race with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and string of other signal callers ranging from Baylor’s Bryce Petty to Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
Manziel’s impact on A&M has been substantial, to say the least, and it’s that fact that separated him from the Heisman hopefuls last year, just as it will again this season.

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