Johnny Manziel, since his record-breaking freshman season, has played the central role in a debate regarding young athletes jumping early into the professional ranks, and Wednesday, the sophomore made the move official by declaring for the 2014 NFL draft.
In less than two years under center for the Texas A&M Aggies, Manziel has emerged as arguably the most polarizing college athlete...well, ever. But love him or hate him, defend him or despise him, Manziel made the right move taking his talents to the NFL.
The two-year college athlete will conclude his career as a starter at A&M with a 20-6 record, including 2-0 in the postseason, along with the first-ever freshman-awarded Heisman Trophy. As the Aggies' point man, Manziel threw for 7,820 yards on 595-of-863 (68.9 percent) for 63 touchdowns while rushing for 2,169 yards on 345 carries for 30 scores.
Compressed into one simple fact, Manziel compiled arguably the most noteworthy career in college football history and, while his record isn't perfect nor his Twitter feed church-worthy, the sophomore ultimately made a mark on the sport untarnished by losses or off-the-field issues.
Manziel's arrival onto the college football scene was the perfect storm of recklessness, chaos and shock, as he guided an underachieving program into the heart of the national spotlight during what can be considered the university's most fragile and drastic shift in school history—realignment into the Southeastern Conference.
As just a humble 3-star recruit out of Kerrville, Texas, Manziel required no second glance entering the 2012 season. Less than a season later, though, and not even Nick Saban's Alabama defense could slow down the A&M offense, as the Aggies upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Following the regular season, the redshirt freshman captured a slew of accolades, ranging from the Heisman to consensus first-team AP All-American. In just two years, Manziel has earned distinction both on the award stage and the football field, and outside of the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards—each given annually to the nation's top player (and basically Heisman wannabes)—he has claimed every honor possible.
So, outside of a national championship run, what else remains for Manziel in the college football scene?
The sophomore has earned almost every individual honor available, and certainly each one with instant recognition, while also sporting a perfect postseason record, an immeasurable number of SportsCenter highlights and a diehard following across the country.
And while 2013 failed to live up to Manziel's 2012 breakthrough, the year acted as a means for his development, as the sophomore proved his ability to remain calm in the pocket, pass efficiently and shoulder less bone-shaking blows downfield.
In football terms, Manziel matured, and while the young athlete has plenty of room to grow, the allure of the NFL combined with the lack of college appeal made his choice to declare all the more simple.
For Manziel, it was the right move.
There was nothing left to fight for at the college level, and that ultimately pushed him over the edge and into the NFL draft.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!