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Is Unahppy Manziel Still The Top Heisman Contender?

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has been in the news this week and it hasn’t been for his football.

No, it’s tough being a Heisman-winning quarterback and so Manziel took to Twitter and complained about it. In the tweet read around the world early Sunday morning, the young player tweeted, “Bull s@#$% like tonight is why I can’t wait to leave college station… whenever it may be.”

He immediately deleted the tweet but then followed up with, “‘Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.”

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

Please walk a day in my shoes? This included going to a NBA Finals Playoff game in Miami.

But as the 2013 football season approaches, Manziel will be back at College Station soon and resume his football career. At least for now. He three years left of eligibility but many are wondering/assuming this will be his last season.

As a redshirt sophomore, he is eligible to declare for the 2013 NFL draft.

While questions linger whether Manziel can succeed in the NFL, expectations are high for him this season in his second one as a starter. Upon winning the Heisman last year, the player said he’d like to win a National Championship (13 to 2 for 2014) but you couldn’t help but wonder if he’d really also like to win a second Heisman.

His ascent seemed to come out of the blue as you rewind one year ago and Manziel wasn’t in the conversation, much less named Texas A&M’s starter. He had no preseason hype and according to SI’s Stewart Mandel, historically, this has been par for the course for the most recent Heisman winners.

Take a look: (2009) Mark Ingram, (2010), Cam Newton, (2011) Robert Griffin III and (2012) Johnny Manziel. Mandel posed the question, isn’t it time to retire the old cliché that the Heisman is more about hype than performance?

But a quick look at this year’s current odds for the top Heisman contenders still has Manziel at the top of the list even with the hype. The other names also look pretty familiar.

Johnny Manziel (QB Texas A&M)            17/4

Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State)                13/2

A.J. McCarron (QB Alabama)                  9/1

Aaron Murray (QB Georgia)                     12/1

Marquis Lee (WR USC)                          12/1

T.J. Yeldon (RB Alabama)                       12/1

Teddy Bridgewater (QB Louisville)            12/1

De’Anthony Thomas (RB Oregon)            14/1

Duke Johnson (RB Miami)                      14/1

Jadeveon Clowney (DE South Carolina)    14/1

Marcus Mariota (QB Oregon)                  16/1

Tajh Boyd (QB Clemson)                        16/1

Taylor Martinez (QB Nebraska)               18/1

Lache Seastrunk (RB Baylor)                  20/1

The question is, if a player doesn’t need preseason hype to win, then what does it take? Mandel opined it’s all about the media buzz during the season to win December’s coveted award.

A university’s sports information director can get creative and have his player receive attention noted Mandel. Citing Griffin, the fact he was a winning player from Baylor was historic but he also beat Stanford’s quarterback Andrew Luck, who was also impressive.

Was the difference the media buzz? For Griffin, it started on a Saturday morning ESPN story in early September 2011. The player spoke about his love of socks. The piece caught my eye not only for RG3’s quirkiness but his charisma.

I can’t say the same of Luck, Geno Smith or Matt Barkley.

Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney

So for this year, who’s already receiving a little media buzz? What about South Carolina’s Clowney?

His talent is renowned and as a defensive player, his buzz is already pretty high. In the end, he’ll need to have a great season on the field (can you say 13 sacks or better?) and the Gamecocks as a SEC title contender will help matters or his star power could dim.

But at the end of the day, recent history shows a dark horse will emerge and take over the spotlight. Who will that be?





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