Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is one of the most talked-about figures in sports currently, and while he has plenty of supporters, there are others who have tried to downplay his accomplishments. Despite the Aggies' loss to Alabama last week, Manziel is very much on pace to win his second Heisman Trophy, which would put him in elite company.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Crimson Tide were able to outlast Manziel's assault, but it became blatantly obvious that Johnny Football is head and shoulders above all other college football players right now.
Alabama's defense is supposed to be the closest thing resembling an NFL defense in the college game today, but the Tide looked like an FCS squad when Manziel was on the field.
Manziel threw for 464 yards while completing nearly 72 percent of his passes, rushed for 98 more and scored five touchdowns. Bama came away with a 49-42 victory, but Manziel couldn't have possibly done any more than he did. He was absolutely unreal, which ESPN Stats & Info can attest to.
Johnny Football also set a new Texas A&M single-game passing yardage record, which is an impressive feat against any team, let alone the two-time defending national champions.
Johnny Manziel broke his own Texas A&M record for most passing yards in a game (464).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 14, 2013
Manziel has proven to be virtually unstoppable at every turn, as he became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy last season. Even so, Manziel's detractors have found reasons to pretend as though he isn't a generational talent.
The main complaints relate to Manziel's attitude and issues off the field. There is no question that those are major concerns, as Manziel was involved in an autograph scandal, and suspicions surrounded his departure from the Manning Passing Academy this past offseason, but those types of things will likely be few and far between as he continues to mature.
Will Johnny Manziel win his second consecutive Heisman Trophy this season?
Manziel is just 20 years old, so he still has plenty of growing left to do as a person. That has nothing to do with who he is as a football player, however. Even though Manziel's college career has been nothing short of dominant, Sports Illustrated's Peter King has heard that some NFL teams consider him to be undraftable due to his character concerns.
It seems like a ridiculous thought process on the part of those teams, as Manziel has already accomplished more at the college level than the likes of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. He appears to have every bit the skill set of RG3, but his numbers at the collegiate level have been even more impressive.
Some team in need of a quarterback is going to take Manziel early in the 2014 draft if he decides to leave Texas A&M after the season, as most expect. What he accomplishes over the remainder of the year will bolster his resume even more because it will be difficult for teams to overlook consecutive Heisman Trophy wins.
Winning the Heisman certainly doesn't guarantee NFL success. Even winning the honor twice doesn't guarantee anything, as Ohio State running back Archie Griffin became the first and only player to accomplish that feat. He never eclipsed 688 yards in seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, so perhaps there will be some concern that Manziel could suffer a similar fate.
Manziel is thriving in a system that has caught on in the NFL, though, and if he is this dominant against the best competition that the collegiate level has to offer, there is no reason why he can't do something similar in the NFL.
There is no doubt that Manziel has some stiff competition for the Heisman this year with quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Tajh Boyd of Clemson immediately coming to mind, but it's unlikely that any of those signal-callers will turn in a performance comparable to the one Manziel produced against Alabama.
Manziel's naysayers may try to rationalize things if and when he wins the Heisman Trophy, but Manziel will have established himself as arguably the greatest college football player of all time. With that in mind, he'll be the one who gets the last laugh.
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