Johnny Football: Breaking Down What Makes Freshman's Season Special

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08:  Heisman finalists quarterback Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M University Aggies speaks during a press conference prior to the 78th  Heisman Trophy Presentation at the Marriott Marquis on December 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When we look back on the 2012 college football season, no player will define the season more than Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Yes, there are those that would argue for Heisman runner-up Manti Te'o. He was the best player on the country's No. 1 team and they have a case, but in the end 2012 was the year of Johnny Football.

The Heisman award is college football's most prestigious one. The fact that it warrants its own one-hour special on ESPN just to announce the winner goes to show the clout and respect that the award commands. For Manziel to win it as a freshman was both historic and incredible.

Here's a look back at what made Johnny Manziel's season so great.



Texas A&M's Move From the Big 12

"There's no way the Aggies can come from Big 12 mediocrity to being a contender in the SEC," said just about everyone heading into the 2012 season.

Texas A&M's debut in college football's most dominant conference was met with expectations of failure, but Johnny Manziel had other plans. The Aggies not only showed that they could compete in the conference, but also rode Manziel and Kevin Sumlin's spread offense to a 10-2 record and a win over conference champion Alabama.

There's no doubt that Manziel had the statistics and resume to win the Heisman Trophy but the narrative behind the Aggies' immediate success in the SEC definitely added some weight to his Heisman campaign.


Aggies 29, Crimson Tide 24

Every Heisman winner has a signature game that effectively wins them the award. For Johnny Manziel, that game was definitely Texas A&M's win over Alabama.

The Crimson Tide were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. Their physical style and perfection was the personification of SEC dominance.

None of that mattered to Manziel.

Johnny Football turned the hyped matchup into his own personal welcoming party, effectively announcing his Heisman candidacy with an incredible performance through the air (253 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions) and on the ground (92 yards on 18 carries).

For Manziel to have that kind of performance in a win against the best team in the country is what legend is made of. This was the best individual performance of the season.



Highlight Plays

For better or worse, highlights factor into the Heisman vote.

With no way for everyone to watch all of the Heisman candidates in action every week, the highlight serves as a candidate's 30-second resume.

When it comes to highlights, no one did it better than Johnny Football. From incredible throws to elusive runs and scrambles, Manziel has the ability to captivate an audience that few of college football's stars are able to master.

Manziel's highlights are sure to be played for years to come as he has at least two more years to add to his already historic career.