Johnny Manziel, quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies, became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy last season. Manziel wowed the college football world with his running and passing ability, and was clearly the best player in college football.
Some of that was due to Manziel’s outstanding play, but another part of it was that his competition for the award was much different than in years past. The players that Manziel needed to beat out were Manti Te’o, a linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Collin Klein, a gritty quarterback without great stats, of the Kansas State Wildcats. While Te’o and Klein were good players, they simply could not compete with Manziel’s numbers and dazzling highlights.
This season, however, Manziel faces stiffer competition for the award. Quarterbacks like Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles, Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks and Bryce Petty of the Baylor Bears are all putting up tremendous numbers, comparable to Manziel’s production in 2013. And, Winston is on the second-ranked team in the country, which could be a factor in the race.
Some argue that Manziel’s numbers this year are better than what he put up last season, so he should be in line for the world. In a vacuum, that would be true. But the competition level around him, namely Winston, Mariota and Petty, is much higher this season. Therefore, it’s not an automatic that Manziel could become only the second player to ever win the Heisman twice (Archie Griffin of the Ohio State Buckeyes won the award in 1974 and 1975).
Manziel is definitely in the mix, and he will have two more chances to prove himself worthy of the Heisman, beginning this weekend as Texas A&M faces the LSU Tigers. The Aggies finish the season against a Top 10 opponent, the Missouri Tigers. If Manziel continues to put up huge numbers, especially against these ranked opponents, he could very well win the award again. And if he does, he will have earned it.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.