There's No Need to Worry About Johnny Manziel Thinking About the NFL

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMarch 5, 2013

This time a year ago, Johnny Manziel was a no-name quarterback about to enter spring practice and a battle with three other players for the top spot on Texas A&M's depth chart.

Fast-forward 365 days and he has become "Johnny Football," a larger-than-life college football superhero who hangs out with celebrities at the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras while drawing the ire of critics who think he's enjoying his celebrity status a little too much.

Jealousy is a stinky cologne.

Manziel's ride as a college football superhero might be short-lived. The Kerrville, Texas native will be three years removed from high school after the 2013 season, which makes him eligible for the 2014 NFL draft should he decide to take his game to the next level.

It's something that he's clearly thinking about.

In an interview with ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit on Sunday, Manziel was very forthcoming with his future plans, going so far as to say that he's considering an early jump to pro football

"You never know how things might play out," Manziel said (2:12 mark). "If the opportunity comes to go to the NFL, you have to look at that just like you look at everything else in your life."

Should Texas A&M fans be concerned that there may only be one year left for Manziel in College Station?

Of course not.

You know who else is thinking about the NFL? Every other college football player at every single football program in the country—probably without exception.

It's incredibly unfair, because most people in Manziel's situation would also take advantage of the opportunities that come with being a Heisman Trophy winner. But the redshirt sophomore has become a lightning rod for criticism ever since he started putting up video game numbers last September.

Having one eye on the NFL is not a bad thing.

Manziel is reportedly making a return trip to San Diego this offseason to work with quarterback guru George Whitfield, Jr., in an attempt to become a more accomplished pocket passer. 

That bodes well for Texas A&M in 2013 considering 1,000-yard receiver Mike Evans will return with enough wide receivers 6'3" and taller to constitute a rec league basketball roster.

Besides, after what happened this season in the NFL with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and other mobile quarterbacks succeeding at a rather high level, why wouldn't Manziel consider the NFL?

The iron is hot.

"Gimmicky college offenses" aren't considered gimmicks anymore at the next level, and that means that the path to the NFL is clearing for all dual-threat quarterbacks, including Manziel.

But even if he does move on after the 2013 season, there's still a big legacy left for "Johnny Football" to write.

Texas A&M has the pieces in place and the schedule in front of it to make a serious run at the BCS National Championship. If he can lead the Aggies to the promised land, he will further solidify himself as one of the top players in program history.