You know how "they" say opposites attract? Yeah, "they" nailed it if they were talking about Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron's relationship.
The two men enjoyed one another’s company at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibdodaux, La., but both are fully aware that an encounter of grand proportions await them.
“It’s going to be fun,” McCarron said. “I get to play my boy, and I think it’s going to be a good game and it’s going to be exciting.”
The Heisman Trophy winner and two-time championship-winning quarterback roomed together, “got to hang out” at night and served as counselors for the Mannings’ annual passing camp. The two talked family and offseason workouts with one another, but Manziel said they steered clear of any Alabama/Texas A&M on-the-field talk while they were off the field.
The Crimson Tide will travel to take on the Aggies in an SEC West showdown in September, but despite their separation of colors on the gridiron, Manziel considers McCarron a friend.
“He’s just a good guy,” Manziel said. “He’s a good quarterback that led his team to two national championships and he’s done a lot for Alabama. I enjoy being around him.”
As they showcase on the field, both have different styles. It's somewhat more evident off of the field.
Some classify Manziel as a party boy for his nightclub pictures on Twitter and his Instagram shots of cash in a casino. It’s because of pictures like these that some are speculating that Manziel was sent home early from the Manning Passing Academy for partying too hard, rather than dehydration, which is what his father told Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News.
McCarron, on the other hand, neglects the spotlight. Instead, he said he’s a homebody who enjoys playing Xbox and sending his girlfriend, Katherine Webb, to the mall in Tuscaloosa for him. Let's hope Brent Musberger doesn't shop there.
Each man’s personality reflects his on-the-field persona. One is a Heisman winner with the ability to beat an opponent with his arm or his legs, while the is other a game manager who had the highest quarterback rating in college football last season.
McCarron threw for 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions, and he’s not listening to any naysayers who believe he won’t be as efficient in 2013.
“I don’t listen to people,” McCarron said. “I don’t know who these people are, but I don’t listen to them. I listen to my coaches, and I know what I’m capable of.”
Fox analyst Charles Davis believes the two men's playing styles will be more similar in 2013. He visualizes McCarron being more explosive in the passing game and Manziel learning how to manage a football game better after a year of experience.
“I think that for both of them, we’re going to see elements of the other this year,” Davis said. “I thought that the championship game against LSU was the coming out party for (McCarron). They put more and more on him and he handled it. Manziel, we just think he’s sort of a wild child right now, but let’s see how it turns out. I think he’s going to grow and adjust himself.”
While Kevin Sumlin may have topped Nick Saban in last year’s game, winning 29-24, a lot of the so-called experts assume Saban will adjust and be the difference-maker in the rematch. Davis doesn’t see it as one-sided.
“It’s hard to go against (Saban), but at the same time, that would mean we’re underrating Kevin Sumlin,” Davis said. “It does come out like a one way adjustment and it’s not. It’s more like a chess match. I see your move. Then, I see your move. Back and forward until someone gets a checkmate.”
Manziel believes his coach is “absolutely” being underrated and undervalued in the early matchup.
“I feel like he might be one of the best coaches in college football if not the best,” Manziel said. “I mean, Nick Saban gets a lot of credit and he’s a great coach. I’ve had the opportunity to run into him and talk to him and he’s a great guy, but Coach Sumlin gets overlooked.”
Per praised Manziel at the SEC Meetings held in May, saying, “I’m not sure you stop a guy like that, but to keep him from making big plays and allowing him to break down the defense, that’s something we’re going to have to continue to work and do a better job of.”Saban
Manziel had his way with the Tide last season, passing for 253 yards, rushing for 92 and scoring two touchdowns. He brushed off any thought of keeping Saban up late at night.
“I don’t think much about it, and I don’t think he does either," Manziel said. “I’ve seen stuff on Twitter about him going to the lake. He's living his life just like me and AJ are living ours."
The ticket prices for Alabama versus Texas A&M lead every other college football matchup in 2013. Jon Solomon, of the Birmingham News, reported that the average asking price for the contest was $626.42. The Tide and the Aggies also hold the highest ticket price on StubHub for a college football game with a $999,999 asking price.
McCarron smirked at the ridiculous offer.
“No,” McCarron laughed. “T.V. is just fine.”
Jake Martin is a Featured Columnist of Bleacher Report and a sports writer for the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the Concordia Sentinel.