It didn’t take long for Johnny Manziel to become the big man on campus.
The Texas A&M football freshman led the Aggies to a dominant 48-3 victory over Southern Methodist on Saturday. In the effort, the starting quarterback threw for 294 yards, a freshman school record, and four touchdowns while adding 124 more yards and two scores on the ground. His jaw-dropping display of gridiron supremacy should make A&M fans giddy about the team’s future.
Because with Manziel taking snaps for the next four years, it’ll be special.
Four years—most passers in college football aren’t given that much time to paint their legacy. It usually takes time for a QB—especially a dual-threat—to adjust to the speed of the athletes after running circles around defenders in high school.
Not only is Manziel still running circles around defenders, but the young signal-caller already has the respect of the seniors he’s leading into battle.
According to Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN, Uzoma Nwachukwu, a senior wideout, raved about Manziel after his performance this weekend. He said:
"He's 'Captain Amazing' back there. 'Johnny Football,' 'Captain Amazing,' I’m pretty sure next week we'll have another one for him. It's a growing legend."
And don’t believe for a second that’s just a receiver sucking up to a quarterback to get more balls thrown his way. Manziel has the defense’s respect as well. Senior linebacker Jonathan Stewart sang the same tune as Nwachukwu and said (via ESPN):
"Wow. Some of the things that Johnny does are amazing. You would have thought that he was back at Tivy High School again, running around."
On that note, Manziel wasn’t projected to be the savior of a SEC-caliber ballclub in high school. And definitely not as a mere freshman. Rivals.com rated him as a 3-star prospect, No. 45 in Texas and the No. 14 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
I bet Rivals wants a mulligan.
Now, skeptics will be quick to point out his breakout performance was against less-than-prestigious SMU. But Manziel impressed in his debut against Florida too, completing 76.7 percent of his passes and racking up over 230 net yards and one rushing touchdown.
Maybe not this season, but in the coming years, expect the Aggies to compete for nothing less than the top spot in the SEC behind the explosive Manziel.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.