There's a reason why Johnny Manziel was the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Memorial Trophy. And it wasn't because he was the best freshman ever to play the game (think Herschel Walker and Tony Dorsett).
It's because most sportswriters know that the kind of fame and celebrity that comes with winning the award is hard to handle, especially for an 18-to-20-year-old kid. That's why they avoided giving the biggest individual award in college football to someone that young in the past.
|Photo by: Henny Ray Abrams|
Johnny Football's offseason hijinks have been well documented. From his decision to take his second semester classes online to his courtside seats at NBA games and visits with LeBron James and other stars. From his seemingly wild spring break in Cabo to his round of golf at Pebble Beach. From his mildly profane tweet last month after getting a parking ticket; "(expletive) like tonight is the reason why I can't wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be," and culminating (so far) with his latest, an early departure from the prestigious Manning Passing Academy, where he was a counselor.
The speculation is that he was asked to leave for possible alcohol consumption, although he denies it.
Is Manziel doing anything different than any other college student does every single day? No. In fact, he could be doing a lot worse. But the point is, he could, and I would argue should, be doing things a lot better.
I'm concerned for the young man, because he appears to be a freight train heading for a section of track that is unfinished, and he may all too soon go flying off the rails.
A few months ago I predicted that he would not win another Heisman in the two or three years he has left at Texas A&M. Many of my friends said I was crazy, he would definitely get one and maybe two more. But I stick by my assessment.
One of the reasons I think last year was so good for him, other than his obvious talent, is that he went into the fall not as the starting quarterback. He worked his tail off all summer preparing to win the starting job. He was prepared. He was ready. It showed.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I can't imagine that he's had time to work even half as hard this summer, and I think it will show in the fall.
Manziel made his mark with his feet (although his arm isn't too shabby, either). If he begins the season even a little out of shape in the athlete-rich SEC, he runs the risk of a serious injury. In the best shape possible, it's hard to keep from getting hit by 6-foot, 7-inch, 300-pound defensive ends that run a 4.6 in the 40. If he is even a tad bit rusty, it could be ugly.
Combine that with the fact that, for the first half of last year, he was almost an unknown entity. His coming out party came in defeating vaunted Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can bet Nick Saban has watched so much film of that game that he sees it in his sleep now.
One of Saban's strongest attributes is how well he prepares a team when he has a lot of time. He's had a year to take aim at the Aggies. They are Alabama's second game of the season, and if Manziel isn't physically up to par, it may not end well for him.
Time will tell for Manziel. Hopefully I'm wrong about him, because he's definitely fun to watch. I just hope that we aren't watching one of those train wrecks that we can't look away from.