Preparation is king for college football coaches; always thinking several steps ahead. To that end, one cannot blame Kevin Sumlin and new offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney for mapping out a plan should 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel bolt for the NFL after next season.
McKinney alluded to the possibility while addressing Houston A&M Club on Thursday, The San Antonio Express-News reports.
“With the uncertainty of Johnny’s situation because of the way the NFL is going — his stock is rising.”
The Russell Wilson comparison is obvious, as both are undersized, dual thread quarterbacks. Manziel is listed at a mighty generous 6-foot-1. A year from now should he be in attendance at the NFL Combine, when he’s measured below 6-feet, TV and sports talk radio will push it like a major revelation. Manziel joked about his size not fitting the traditional quarterback mold during the season. And indeed, it will be a hurdle for him to overcome no matter when he tests the NFL waters.
Wilson may have blazed a trail for the undersized, speedy quarterback in leading the Seahawks to the NFC semifinals with 3,118 yards passing on 64 percent completions, and 26 touchdowns. But Wilson was the exception — not an exception, but the exception. His transcendent, individual success might get similar players looks they might not have otherwise, but it won’t be enough to completely alter decades of agreed upon logic.
Yes, the spread and running quarterbacks are becoming more common in an offensively evolved NFL. However, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick: these are quarterbacks who stand in the traditional pro height range.
Wilson was also a four-year starter at the college level, where he refined his skills and improved from season-to-season. He came to the NFL well studied and well prepared, which helped compensate for his lack of the typical pro traits 2012 counterpart Andrew Luck brought as an early draft entry.
Conversation of Manziel leaving after his redshirt sophomore season seems premature. Yes, the first freshman to win the Heisman was spectacular in 2012, defying conventional wisdom with his ability to flourish among the giants of SEC defense — sometimes. Manziel burst onto the national stage with a breakout performance against Alabama’s might defense, and he validate his Heisman with an outstanding Cotton Bowl. But Manziel had his struggles against conference competition, and put up the majority of his regular season stats against sub-.500, non-BCS and FCS competition.
As exciting as he was last season, there’s room for improvement — especially if pursuing the NFL Draft early is going to be worth his while.
Manziel has shown up in more places recently than The Rock (star of four films released in the next three months). Next up: NBA All-Star Weekend.
H-Town bound #AllStarWeekend
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) February 15, 2013
He’s already achieved fame. Fortune is the next step, and that means the NFL. But the Aggies still have a season to play, without key 2012 contributors Ryan Swope and Luke Joeckel. Replicating or perhaps surpassing the unexpected 11-win mark of last season means staying grounded, and A&M athletic director Eric Hyman reportedly talked to Manziel parents about not letting this Icarus fly too close to the sun.
Readying underclassmen like Kenny Hill and Kohl Stewart is paramount for the Aggies’ continued success, even if Manziel hangs around longer than one more season. Sumlin and staff have to plan years at a time, and the preparation of newcomers Hill and Stewart is especially necessary now with the transfer of Jameill Showers last month.