Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M's Case for Heisman Runner-Up

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Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M's Case for Heisman Runner-Up
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Prior to the three-point shooting contest during the NBA's All-Star Weekend in 1986, Larry Bird walked into the players' locker room dressed in his Celtics warm-up suit. 

"I want all of you to know I am winning this thing," Bird said with a straight face. "I'm just looking around to see who's gonna finish second."

Like Bird, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is going to take home the trophy. It's as sure of a bet as the sun rising, Darren McFadden missing games because of injury and the Dallas Cowboys falling apart in December.

Chalk it up, it's over. 

If there's an interesting subplot to Saturday's Heisman Trophy presentation it's who will finish second to Winston. Five finalists will join him in New York for the ceremony, the highest total since 1994. 

Quarterback Jordan Lynch from Northern Illinois is a nice story. The senior has rushed for an uncanny 1,881 yards and 22 touchdowns this year and led the Huskies to a 12-1 record in the MAC. 

Running back Tre Mason of the Cinderella story Auburn Tigers has also had a stellar season. Mason earned the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year honors, per Edward Aschoff ESPN.com, and punched his ticket to the ceremony after rushing for an SEC title game record of 304 yards against Missouri. 

But the player most deserving of second place in the Heisman Trophy voting is Johnny Manziel

It's easy to take Manziel's greatness for granted. It's also easy to criticize the 21-year-old's off-field shenanigans, which have certainly been well documented. If you purely take into account Manziel's numbers this year, which Heisman voters should, he's having a remarkably productive 2013 that rivals his output in 2012. 

Through 12 games, Manziel has passed for more yards than he did in 2012—3,732 yards compared to 3,419. He's also thrown for more touchdowns through 12 games this year—33 compared to 24 last year. His quarterback rating is higher in 2013, ranking fourth in the country at 170.4 per ESPN.com.

Last year, while he rushed for significantly more yards, his final quarterback rating was just 12th in the nation at 155.3. He's proven that he's talented enough to adapt.

It's understandable that the sophomore's rushing yards have decreased this year. Like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III in the NFL, when teams have time to prepare for a quarterback's running ability they've typically found ways to slow them down. 

The fact that he's responded and thrown the ball so efficiently this year against SEC defenses, including an Alabama defense that he threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns against, is nothing short of incredible and is a great omen for his continued success at the next level. 

But this isn't an argument for Manziel's success at the next level, where Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com projects he'll be taken 13th overall. Manziel has led a Texas A&M team that ranks 105th in total defense, according to ncaa.com, to eight wins in the SEC! 

In the race for secondary Heisman glory, I'm taking Johnny Manziel. Care to disagree? 

 

Follow me on Twitter @TomLogan_BR

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