Johnny Manziel, or "Johnny Football," as he is more commonly known amongst college football fans, has taken the NCAA by storm this season.
In this, his freshman year at Texas A&M University, he has certainly turned some heads and raised some eyebrows.
His impressive first-year campaign with the Aggies has been highlighted by a huge upset win over the then-No. 1-ranked Alabama. He has since led his team to a 10-2 record and a Cotton Bowl berth.
Although Manziel has proven that he will be a force in college football for years to come, I don't believe he deserves this year's Heisman trophy.
I may seem out of my mind, but let's break his year down. Yes, the stats are there, the wins are there, but I would be remiss to say that he was the best player in college football this season.
One reason in particular is that while he may have another dimension to his game as a runner, that should not necessarily set him aside from other quarterbacks. He has been out-shined by other passers in terms of passing yards and touchdowns—by 15 passers to be exact.
Johnny Manziel ranks 16th in the nation in passing yards, and, while that is impressive (especially for a freshman), we should not discount the other players simply because they do not have the ability to run like Manziel.
Think of it this way: Randall Cunningham and Johnny Unitas were both spectacular quarterbacks in their prime, but very different stylistically. Unitas was known for being the blue-and-white bomber, while Cunningham took flight for the Eagles and ran rampant for the Vikings. Both were great quarterbacks, but it can be argued which one meant more to their respective teams.
Another quarterback who is a Heisman candidate, Collin Klein of Kansas State, has a comparable style to Manziel.
While he may not have accounted for as many yards as Manziel has this season, he has still thrown for 15 touchdowns and rushed for 22 more. The senior passer from K-State has led his squad to an 11-1 record and a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
While I personally think Manziel has a slight edge over Klein because he has more yards and passing touchdowns, I think Klein has been just as impressive overall as he has.
This award isn't all about how many touchdowns you score or how many tackles you have, it is about who made the biggest splash for their team. In my opinion, Klein has been just as, if not more important to his team as Manziel has been.
For a period in time this season, Kansas State was ranked No. 1, and it was largely due to the play of the Klein. He has made K-State extremely relevant in college football for the first time in years.
Getting back to Manziel, we must be wary to not let the fact that he's a freshman overshadow that he is just not the best player in college football this year. He surely is the best freshman in college football, but that's not what wins the Heisman award.
Plain and simple, there are players with better stats and more wins than Manziel who made bigger impacts on their respective teams.
Now, comparing a quarterback to a linebacker is not easy to do, but when I put Manziel's stats against Notre Dame defender Manti Te'o, I don't see much of a contest. Not only has Te'o been a perennial award winner, but he also tallied 100-plus tackles in each of the past three seasons.
Another knock on Manziel is that he has struggled in big games, whereas Te’o has flourished. While Manziel has been saved by a good run game and defense when he struggles, Te’o has played the hero for the Irish on many occasions.
Being great is not only about being great yourself, but it is the ability to bring out greatness in other players, and that is what the Heisman is about. Te’o has breathed life into a Notre Dame team that has struggled for so long.
Strictly looking at consistency, Te’o has Manziel beat.
While Manziel has played at a level some players can only wish to achieve, he has still made freshman mistakes, which is to be expected.
The Heisman is not about how well a guy plays in relation to where he is in his college career, but rather about being the best of the best. Manziel is a star that has certainly shined bright at times, but Te’o’s flame has never flickered.
While Manziel has obviously impacted his team in a major way, he is not the leader Te'o is—yet. At the rate he's going, Manziel will be a Heisman candidate for the rest of his years at A&M.
Te'o changed games in a drastic way for the Irish, a team that has had a questionable offense at times behind sophomore quarterback Everett Golson. Te'o is a huge reason why the Irish are undefeated, and is also why they have a chance to prove that independent teams can hang with the big boys of college football.
Maybe next year, Johnny.