Texas A&M's home finale victory over Mississippi State marked a night to remember for anyone donning maroon and white nationwide, as the Kyle Field faithful were granted one last opportunity to view their fearless quarterback in his natural environment. Johnny Manziel was leaving for the NFL; the decision was nowhere near finalized, but the consensus among the fanbase was continuing the grow, and suspicions were only confirmed after the antics the redshirt sophomore pulled following the win.
In a moment of passion, Manziel leapt into the stands, all after riling up the crowd in his final moments on Kyle Field's turf. It was a beautiful goodbye.
That was three weeks ago. That was before two consecutive road losses—for the first time in his career—to cap an 8-4 (4-4 SEC) season. That was before Manziel's Heisman-repeat hopes were dashed on the concrete of LSU's Death Valley and Mizzou's Memorial Stadium.
So now the question has been revived: Will he stay or will he go?
The simple answer: Kyle Field hasn't seen the last of Johnny Football.
Tuesday, Oregon star quarterback Marcus Mariota announced he would pass on the glamour, the fame and the wealth of the NFL for another—his junior—season with the Ducks, allowing himself at least one more shot at a national title and the ever-elusive Heisman Trophy, via Paul Myerberg of USA Today.
Mariota has good reason to stay put. As evidenced by his final weeks under center, the young quarterback has a lot to learn, as losses to Stanford and Arizona—along with a one-point victory over rival Oregon State—killed his credibility. Another year working with quarterback specialists, Oregon's top-notch coaching staff and a 12-game schedule, and Mariota may be looking at elite draft status.
The NFL isn't going anywhere. Period.
For Manziel, the story has a similar spin. Following Mississippi State, the sophomore had shown poise and maturity, not to mention toughness, in his time with the Aggies, but recent weeks on the road against LSU and Missouri revealed negative aspects of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner's game that will only serve to lower his draft stock.
At A&M, Manziel is personally mentored by quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital, the same assistant that molded Houston's Case Keenum, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and West Virginia's Geno Smith—all current NFL starters. Outside College Station, though, the sophomore trains with position guru George Whitfield, Jr., another mentor of big-name NFL quarterbacks.
One more year of development and growth only looks to have positive effects, especially with the shoulder injury Manziel received midway through the season against Auburn.
Reasons to bolt for the pros are limitless at this point, including possible collegiate injury, a giant financial boost and induction into an elite class of athletes, but remaining at A&M provides an opportunity to garner significant experience, knowledge and maturity while chasing a national title and another Heisman Trophy.
Ultimately, the scale tips in favor of Texas A&M, and knowing Manziel and his unpredictability factor, his decision to remain in College Station is far more likely than many may think.
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand