Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman in NCAA history to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy last season. Manziel posted one of the most outstanding statistical seasons in college-football history, throwing for 3706 yards, 26 touchdowns and an SEC-best 68.0 competition percentage while leading the conference in rushing with 1410 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns from scrimmage.
In a season in which his team joined a conference that produced the winner of the last seven national championships, the first-year starter led the Aggies to a surprising 11-2 overall record, while handing eventual NCAA champion Alabama their only loss of the season.
Entering the 2012 season, Manziel and Texas A&M had little expectations. But since the upset of the Crimson Tide, “Johnny Football” has been the focus of the college football world, and his Aggies are a projected favorite to contend in the SEC.
However, the hype surrounding Manziel may be too much for even a player of his caliber to reach. That’s not to say Manziel will have a lackluster season, rather anything short of his nearly perfect Heisman campaign would automatically receive the label of “disappointment.”
High profile players that are constantly covered by the media face a tough situation. These players will have a greater likelihood to stand out and flourish on major networks when they succeed, however, will be heavily scrutinized and magnified when they don’t reach Mount Everest-like standards.
While the “Johnny Football” frenzy that was the post-Alabama season for Texas A&M made the eventual Heisman winner’s candidacy gain national attention, the expectations from year two will completely outweigh year one. The more attention Manziel gets, the more he will either be loved or hated, depending on the fan.
For every highly publicized athlete, there are a large portion of both fans and haters (for a lack of a better term). With media attention comes great debate.
Picture some of the most publicized athletes in sports today: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, etc. Each with a large portion of passionate fans and each with an equal if not greater portion of people who love to watch them fail.
Manziel is, without a doubt, the most publicized player in college football today and quite possibly the most talked about amongst fans. Despite many mock drafts calling JaDeveon Clowney the unanimous best prospect for next year’s NFL draft, the attention he receives pales in comparison to Manziel, while the difference in scrutiny is even larger.
The second Manziel throws an interception there will be a media firestorm. As soon as he fumbles the football, fans will doubt his talents.
Adding to the perception of Manziel are his off-field actions. Manziel has seen an increase in scrutiny for his Twitter and Instagram postings from many critics.
Why is his personal life getting attention? Because he’s “Johnny Football,” reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the most talked about player in college football.
If this was the starting right guard for the Aggies, there is little doubt that he would be as scrutinized and viewed so harshly because his actions would gain little attention. The microscope Manziel is under will affect how one perceives him on and off the field.
Manziel’s play last season was nearly perfect statistically and well deserved of the Heisman. However, as likely an impressive sophomore campaign will be, the high expectations his play and the media have created will likely prove to create a major obstacle for the quarterback to live up to.