Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will play in 2013. The NCAA opted to suspend the reigning Heisman Trophy winner for the first half of his team’s season opener against Rice on Saturday, rather than rule the quarterback ineligible, following an investigation into whether he received payments for signing autographs.
Manziel, whose offseason has been the biggest topic of discussion in college football, will get the opportunity to defend his title and likely be in consideration for the award come December. However, with a tumultuous offseason and heavy media scrutiny, will “Johnny Football” be blackballed by Heisman voters this season?
Manziel is the only freshman to ever win the prestigious award. In 2012, he led Texas A&M to a surprising 11-2 (6-2) record.
Manziel threw for 3,706 yards, rushed for 1,410 and had 47 total touchdowns during his historic Heisman campaign.
After winning the award, Manziel became the biggest superstar in college football. His every move off the field was publicized and dissected by the college football media and fans. Manziel’s frequent partying and questionable use of social media earned him the label of “immature” by critics. However, the recent investigation by the NCAA was the true icing on the cake.
Assuming he can match or improve his production from last season, Manziel may face the consequences from ruffling the feathers of Heisman voters. During his freshman season, there were debates as to whether voters would be turned away from selecting a freshman candidate.
Matt Murschel, a college football insider for The Orlando Sentinel, not only criticized Manziel’s offseason escapades, but also believes that he may have hurt the chances of future first-year players from winning the award.
“After the offseason that Manziel has had, the Heisman Trust should rethink giving the award to a first-year player again,” Murschel said. “The pictures tell the story. There’s the ones of him at a club with friends, or courtside at an NBA game, or dressed up as Scooby-Doo next to scantily clad coeds, or the ones where he is enjoying spring break on the sandy beaches of Cabo.
“Each documents the life of an average college student, but in Manziel’s case, he is not your average college student. He’s the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, which means everything he does – good or bad – is magnified tenfold.”
Manziel will likely have another outstanding season, despite extremely high expectations. Should he outperform his competition, his biggest obstacle may be receiving enough votes from a spurned Heisman panel.