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The Battalion

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Opinion: Manziel Mania

 
 

From a president to rap music, the sights and sounds of Thursday’s pro day were endless, and if you have ever doubted the circus known as Johnathan “Football” Manziel, you can now stop.
Seventy-five officials from 30 NFL teams and one governor, along with former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara, poured into the McFerrin Athletic Center to witness the most anticipated pro day in NFL history, and they were not disappointed. Manziel did pro day just as he does everything else – his own way.
Manziel put on a passing clinic during his throwing interview for NFL scouts – completing 61 of his 64 passing attempts – stating a strong case for why he should be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft
Following his workout, Manziel’s competitive spirit was displayed as he expressed his disappointment in the missed throws because he was “striving for perfection.”
Straying from the typical T-shirt and shorts, Manziel took the field on Thursday dressed in a new line of Nike’s Manziel Pro Day attire and becoming the first quarterback to sport shoulder pads and a helmet during a pro day.
“I’ve never seen anybody trot on the field on Sundays when it’s time to play a game and have shorts and a T-shirt on, it just didn’t make any sense for me,” Manziel said to ESPN’s Ed Werder after the exhibition. “I’m a guy, I don’t have anything to hide. I just felt like I could come out here and make every throw these guys asked me to, so why not do it in shoulder pads?”
Quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., with whom Manziel has been training the past two months in San Diego, said the decision to wear pads was made by Manziel two weeks prior to Thursday’s exhibition.
“His question was, ‘What do they respect, what do NFL personnel respect?’ Not so much, ‘What do they want to see’ or, ‘What do they question about him,’ but, ‘What do they respect?'” Whitfield said. “I told him, ‘The challenge. People respect the challenge, they want a challenging workout, they want to see a hard driving pace.’ And he said, ‘So what more could we do?’ And I told him, ‘Make it more like an interview. If you were going to Wall Street you wouldn’t wear T-shirt and shorts, you’d put a suit on.’ So we talked about it, he grinned for maybe a minute, finished his sandwich, and he goes, ‘Well that’s what we’re going to do,’ and he never veered back from that.”
Whitfield was just as active as Manziel during Thursday’s pro day as he was chasing Johnny out of the pocket with a broom to simulate pursuing defenders nipping at his heels and attempting to swat his throws.
Manziel threw to six receivers, including five Aggies. Mike Evans, Travis Labhart, Cameron Clear, Ben Malena and Derel Walker were among the A&M players catching darts via the arm of Manziel as only two balls fell to the turf all day. The third incompletion came as Evans caught a 45-yard ball on the sidelines but failed to keep two feet inbounds.
Manziel’s energy, passion and competitive drive was exhibited as he yelled “Boom!” and sprinted 60 yards to celebrate with his receiver after a final 65-yard missile dropped into the lap of a striding Evans.
Manziel addressed the concerns of playing under center. After taking only one snap under center all year in Kevin Sumlin’s offense, Manziel took all 64 snaps under center at Thursday’s pro day – proving his footwork and arm strength are on par with “prototypical” quarterbacks.
Manziel will always have doubters – it’s inevitable for a quarterback who is 5-foot-11, three-quarters of an inch tall and plays like a bullet out of a smoking gun. But you can’t doubt his commitment and drive to be one of the best quarterbacks at the next level.
I was skeptical about how Johnny would pan out in the NFL. However, after seeing him Thursday – Manziel consistently dropping 50- to 60-yard bombs on the numbers and rifling 20-yard out-routes across the field on the run – my skepticism has quickly subsided.
Manziel may not have the size, he may not have the experience of conducting an NFL-type system and he may not have a Brett Favre-esque arm, but he does possess the heart, drive, commitment and competitive spirit it takes to be a star at the next level.
There are many unknowns about Manziel playing at the professional level, but one thing remains without argument: whichever franchise is blessed to attain the talents of Johnny Football better buckle its seatbelt, because it’s in for one exhilarating ride.

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