COLUMN: HOOVER, Ala. — Give Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel credit. He took his early departure from the annual Manning Passing Camp in stride at SEC Media Days on Wednesday morning. Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, was literally swarmed by media who were more interested in why he was asked to leave by the camp’s leader, former Ole Miss standout Archie Manning, last week than how he avoids a blitzer.
Calling it a mutual decision to leave between himself and Manning, Manziel said he simply overslept and the rumors of him being out late and being hung over “weren’t really true.”
“I just overslept and missed a meeting. I absolutely lived up to it. There was no excuse for not having my phone charged or having an alarm set. I was disappointed to not go on, being a camper there three or four years prior,” Manziel said. “I was upset with myself, that was the biggest thing, but hearing Eli and Peyton (Manning) afterward and the key thing was they wanted me to come back next year. That was great because I had such a great time working with the kids I had and doing things we do at A&M. I’ve just been on a hectic schedule and overslept.”
There is a lot of pressure on Manziel — his personal appearance schedule is unlike any other — and him being a returning Heisman Trophy winner with a chance to repeat certainly puts him in a very unique category. Everything he does is scrutinized, more than any other player in college football. That’s an obvious statement but it’s how he handles situations like last week that will separate him from others.
Manziel could have avoided the questions. He could have put up a front or even got angry about it all, but he didn’t. He admitted he made a mistake and I think that was another sign he will be able to deal with the upcoming season that will be far more tough than his debut.
A lot of the defensive players that have come to Hoover talk about wanting to get a hit on him. He’s a marked man — again, not a shock — but the point remains valid. If there is any player in the SEC — the nation, really — that needs to stay focused on just playing his game this season it’s Manziel.
The minute he starts to take himself too seriously or gives into the world of social media or worries about who is out to get him, his game will suffer. Some think he has taken his popularity a little too far but time will tell how or if it has changed the way he plays.
“I’m learning every day. There are situations you learn to shy away from. I used to be a person that watched ESPN and SportsCenter all day, every day,” Manziel said. “I shy away from it now, articles and things on Twitter, I try to shy away from it. I’m waiting for Aug. 4 to get here.”
Manziel added he hasn’t been on Twitter recently because he hasn’t had anything good to say. Again, that’s a sign he’s maturing into a quarterback who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s expected to do even bigger things in 2013 and distractions aren’t needed if he’s going to make the Aggies a national champion.
It won’t be easy for Manziel to accomplish some of the things he talked about Wednesday but it’s not impossible. There is a feel that the media and fans want to see him fail and be less than Heisman worth. He may just do that but you also have to applaud him for dealing with everything in the manner that he is. It’s a good first step to ensuring he can produce like he did last year and to me, a sign A&M may just be as potent and dangerous as it was on the field in 2012.
—firstname.lastname@example.org (July 18, 2013, Page 7)