Johnny Manziel and Top Contenders Named to 2013 Davey O'Brien Award Watch List

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJuly 17, 2013

Johnny Manziel and Top Contenders Named to 2013 Davey O'Brien Award Watch List

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    There is a lot of history to the Davey O’Brien Award. Think of some of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play and there is a good chance they are part of the select group to win the award. Names such as Steve Young, Peyton Manning and Vince Young are just a few of the legendary players who have been honored.

    Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was last year's winner.

    It should be fun trying to decide a winner this season with so many great quarterbacks to choose from. The watch list has been released by and it includes 34 of the nation's top quarterbacks.

    Manziel returns for a chance to win back-to-back awards, while AJ McCarron and Teddy Bridgewater won't make that feat so easy. There are also a couple of sleepers who should be on the voters' radar.

10. Stephen Morris, Senior, Miami

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    Stephen Morris is the sleeper for the award, but it wouldn't be wise to snooze for long. Miami returns an explosive offense and Morris is the engine that makes sure the wheels are turning correctly.

    Last season, Morris threw for 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns. Sure, his completion percentage of 58.2 percent could use a little improvement, but 33 of his 245 completions produced 25 or more yards. Morris has one of the strongest arms in college football and he doesn't mind putting it to good use.

    The Hurricanes will have plenty of big plays this season, and highlight reels usually get voters all giggly. Morris is the one underdog who could quickly rise up the totem pole if Miami can begin winning games like the old days.

9. Taylor Martinez, Senior, Nebraska

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    Something got into Taylor Martinez last season. A quarterback who couldn't hit water if he had fallen out of boat was suddenly completing passes at a deadly rate. He was no longer a quarterback who wanted to run the ball every play.

    Martinez impressively completed 62 percent of his passes and threw for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns. While it looked like he was a changed quarterback, he still rushed for 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns. It's safe to say that it was his best season by far.

    Can he possibly top last season?

    If Martinez can continue to play at such a high level and possibly lead Nebraska to a Big Ten title, he'll have a great chance to join Eric Crouch as the only Cornhusker to win the Davey O'Brien Award.

8. Brett Hundley, Sophomore, UCLA

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    Troy Aikman became the only UCLA quarterback to win the Davey O'Brien Award in 1988. Brett Hundley has a fighting chance to become the second and join elite company.

    The UCLA quarterback really took the bull by the horns last season and was a big reason UCLA managed to win nine games. He completed 66.6 percent of his passes, threw for 3,745 yards and tossed 29 touchdowns. He also showed impressive athleticism by running for 355 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Hundley was a freshman last season and some are already labeling him as one of the top quarterbacks for the NFL draft. He certainly has the ability for the next level, but for now Hundley can focus on making history and helping the Bruins reach that next step as a program.

7. Marcus Mariota, Sophomore, Oregon

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    Marcus Mariota was another freshman who had a remarkable season last year. However, Johnny Manziel kind of ruined the party for the rest of the young quarterbacks.

    Still, Mariota passed for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns while running for 752 yards and five touchdowns. His 68.5 completion percentage also showed his extreme accuracy. Mariota made a strong case for being the best Oregon quarterback of the BCS era. What's scary is that he was only a first-year player.

    Some will say Mariota is a product of the Oregon system, but it's hard to argue with those statistics, especially if the Ducks are competing for a BCS bowl at the end of the season.

6. Teddy Bridgewater, Junior, Louisville

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    The Teddy Bridgewater bandwagon is full at the moment. Ever since Louisville upset Florida 33-23 in the BCS Sugar Bowl last season, Bridgewater has become the favorite quarterback of many and simply can't do any wrong.

    Bridgewater is deadly accurate with his throws and has enough athleticism to buy himself extra time in the pocket. He's the real deal as an NFL draft prospect, and it showed last season when he threw for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns.

    The problem for Bridgewater is that Louisville doesn't have any marquee games on its schedule. Voters want to see quarterbacks perform well in big matchups and the Cardinals simply don't have any.

    Bridgewater should make a good case to win the award with his play, but will it be good enough?

5. Tajh Boyd, Senior, Clemson

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    Tajh Boyd is always going to produce impressive statistics playing in a high-flying Chad Morris offense. Now, it comes down to winning the big games on the schedule and putting Clemson in position to compete for a national title.

    Last season, Boyd threw for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also did a little work with his legs by rushing for 514 yards and 10 touchdowns. The numbers are clearly there, but Clemson continues to come up short against the tougher opponents. It lost last season to Florida State and South Carolina; both were the only ranked teams on the regular season schedule.

    Boyd will become the first Clemson quarterback to win the Davey O'Brien Award if he can lead his team to the Promised Land.

4. Aaron Murray, Senior, Georgia

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    Aaron Murray has finally gotten national attention with his performance last season nearly knocking off Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. While the buzz may be long overdue, Murray has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks over the last three seasons.

    He was named the starter his freshman season and has topped 3,000 passing yards each time. He has more than 10,000 passing yards and 95 touchdown passes in his career. Murray also improved his completion percentage to an impressive 64.5 percent last season.

    Georgia is once again one of the favorites in the SEC. If it can find a way to beat the rest of the big boys for an SEC title, Murray will have more than a puncher's chance to win the award.

3. AJ McCarron, Senior, Alabama

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    It is simply amazing how AJ McCarron has yet to win an individual award. Sure, he has enjoyed three national championships and was named the 2012 BCS Offensive MVP, but he has yet to be considered for the Heisman Trophy and hasn't won the Davey O'Brien Award.

    McCarron may not possess a flashy playing style or put up crazy numbers, but he is as efficient as you'll find in a quarterback. Last season, he threw for 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns and completed 67.2 percent of his passes. The most impressive statistic of all is his three interceptions out of 314 pass attempts. 

    What else do voters want from a quarterback?

    McCarron is a legit threat to become the first Alabama quarterback to win the Davey O'Brien Award.

2. Braxton Miller, Junior, Ohio State

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    Winning has a lot to do with who walks away with individual awards. There are plenty of great players who aren't even mentioned for trophies because their teams didn't even qualify for the postseason.

    Voters are looking for off-the-chart numbers and team success, and Ohio State's Braxton Miller has both.

    Last season, Miller passed for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns, while he rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers are certainly good enough for consideration, but most importantly, Ohio State finished the season undefeated.

    As long as Miller continues to provide the highlight plays and leads Ohio State to a Big Ten title, he'll have a wonderful chance of joining Troy Smith (2006) as the only Buckeyes to win the Davey O'Brien Award.

1. Johnny Manziel, Sophomore, Texas A&M

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    Ty Detmer, Danny Wuerffel and Jason White are the only three quarterbacks who have won the Davey O'Brien Award twice. White was the last to accomplish the feat in 2003-04. While the odds may be against Johnny Manziel, there hasn't been another quarterback like the reigning Heisman winner. 

    Manziel came in as a redshirt freshman last season and picked apart SEC defenses. He broke school, SEC and NCAA records, won nearly every award possible and looked simply unstoppable doing it. His 253 passing yards and two touchdowns against Alabama gave the Crimson Tide their only loss of the season. It also showed that Manziel had truly arrived. 

    College football has seen great dual-threat quarterbacks in the past, but there were no signs of a defense figuring Manziel out. Until there is a blueprint to slow down Johnny Football, he is the favorite to double-dip as the nation's top quarterback.