Texas A&M Football: Can Aggies Survive in SEC Without Johnny Manziel?

Jim Sullivan@jsully711Featured ColumnistNovember 29, 2013

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In less than two seasons, Johnny Manziel has taken the college football world by storm. Capturing the Heisman Trophy en route to Texas A&M's first 11-2 finish since the 1990's last year, the sophomore quarterback has progressed the sport's dual-threat obsession, generating national exposure and attraction for the program.

However, with Manziel on the edge of bolting for the professional level, A&M stands threatened to lose its top playmaker, and the question remains: can the Aggies continue to perform at the SEC elite standard once their sophomore star wears an NFL uniform?

Simply put, yes, without a doubt. 

Manziel may have been the key to A&M's success these past two seasons, but the Aggies' performing at the same high level has no reliance on him, but rather the current coaching staff and young talent being infused through the program's dominant recruiting. 

Second-year head coach Kevin Sumlin has proven to be the full package, utilizing his youthful charisma, energy and air raid offensive approach to separate A&M from not only other SEC programs, but other regional powers as well. The Aggies' quick success has been magnetic for multiple big-name prospects in the sector, providing immediate leaps on the recruiting trail and bolstering the national image. 

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 06:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies watches game action against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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College Station sits in the heart of arguably the strongest recruiting state in the country, and behind Texas and Oklahoma's recent decline as well as the Aggies' achievements in the SEC thus far, more and more top-tier prospects are turning their attention to Texas A&M. 

Additionally, Sumlin's revamp of the program in terms of overall attraction, social media output and even offensive schemes have all modernized the once-aging university, injecting talent and exposure to garner serious looks from national fan bases and media outlets. 

Without Manziel, A&M will only be without a starting quarterback, not the lifeblood of a revived program. The sophomore's quarterback's absence will be the same as when A.J. McCarron leaves Alabama, Tajh Boyd bolts from Clemson or Braxton Miller takes off from Ohio State. Each has been instrumental to the program's recent success, but without them, each will live on through recruits they attracted with their success on the field. 

For A&M and Manziel, the case will be no different. The sophomore was the catalyst behind the program's on-the-field success, rather than the reaction itself. Sumlin and his recruiting prowess continue to be the main feature, while Manziel and any other third-year Aggies who move on early are just the spark.