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College football: A&M's Johnny Football named AP Player of the Year

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 12:09 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP)
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. On Tuesday, he became the first freshman to be named the Associated Press Player of the Year.

Johnny Manziel ran for almost 1,700 yards and 30 touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback his senior year of high school at Kerrville Tivy.

Who would have thought he’d be even more impressive at Texas A&M when pitted against the defenses of the Southeastern Conference?

On Tuesday, Manziel picked up another major award for his spectacular debut season. He was voted The Associated Press Player of the Year. As with the Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award that Manziel already won, the QB nicknamed Johnny Football is the first freshman to collect the AP award.

Manziel’s 31 votes were more than twice that of second place finisher Manti Te’o, Notre Dame’s star linebacker. He is the third straight Heisman-winning QB to receive the honor, following Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton.

Manziel erased initial doubts about his ability when he ran for 60 yards and a score in his first game against Florida.

“I knew I could run the ball; I did it a lot in high school,” Manziel said. “It is just something that you don’t get a chance to see in the spring. Quarterbacks aren’t live in the spring. You don’t get to tackle. You don’t get to evade some of the sacks that you would in normal game situations. So I feel like when I was able to avoid getting tackled, it opened some people’s eyes a little bit more.”

The 6-foot-1 Manziel threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,181 yards and 19 more scores to help the Aggies win 10 games for the first time since 1998 – and in their inaugural SEC year, too.

Manziel knew that the biggest adjustment from playing in high school to college would be the speed of the game. Exactly how quick players in the SEC were was still a jolt to the quarterback.

“The whole first drive, I was just seeing how fast they really flew to the ball, and I felt like they just moved a whole lot faster,” he said of the Florida game. “It was different than what I was used to, different than what I was used to in high school. So it was just having to learn quick and adjust on the fly.”

He did just that, and started piling up highlight reel material by deftly avoiding would-be tacklers to help the Aggies run off five consecutive wins after that.

Manziel hasn’t had a second to step back and digest the historical significance of his accomplishments this season. He’s far more concerned with helping the Aggies extend their winning streak to six games with a win over Oklahoma on Jan. 4 in the Cotton Bowl.

“I think it will happen after the bowl game and after the season is completely over,” he said. “I’m just ready for it to die down a little bit and get back into a practice routine where we get better and hopefully do what we want to do in the bowl game.”

Player, team Votes

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M 31

Manti T’eo, Notre Dame 15

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois 1

Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina 1

Collin Klein, Kansas State 1

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