Johnny Manziel Must Be Considered Front-Runner for Heisman Trophy

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2013

Sep 28, 2013; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) looks to pass against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Texas A&M defeated Arkansas 45-33. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M may have a blemish on their record in 2013, but that didn't stop voters from making a historic decision to name Johnny Football the first freshman to win the award last year.

Through five games, Manziel has proven himself to be the most explosive and dynamic player in all of college football, making him the obvious front-runner to take the stage in New York again in 2013.

Manziel is piloting the nation's ninth-ranked team this season and somehow played his best game of the year in a narrow loss to two-time defending champion Alabama. The sophomore accounted for 562 total yards and five touchdowns in the loss.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 28:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws a pass against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Aggies defeated the Razorbacks 45-33.  (Photo by Wesley Hi
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

But while other elite quarterbacks, like Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, have perfect records to fall back on, keep in mind that neither of those teams' defenses rank worse than 36th in the nation.

On the other hand, the Aggies' defensive unit ranks 114th out of 125 FBS programs. 

Therefore, Manziel can not only be considered the Heisman front-runner, but also the MVP of college football, proving invaluable for a Texas A&M team that would be on the outside looking in at the top 25 without him.

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On the individual level, Manziel is performing better than many of his Heisman competitors. He's right behind Bridgewater and Mariota in yards-per-play average, racking up 9.6 yards per play compared to 10.2 for the other guys.

Manziel ranks ahead of Bridgewater, Mariota and Boyd in yards per game, averaging more than 360 total yards per game this season. Though he's played two more quarters of football than the three other early-season candidates, Manziel leads them all in touchdowns, having accounted for 17 (14 passing and three rushing) through five games.

With road games against ranked SEC opponents in Ole Miss and LSU on the horizon, there's still plenty of time for Manziel and the Aggies to achieve the team success that will undoubtedly boost his Heisman resume.

For now, though, Johnny Football must be considered the front-runner to take home college football's top individual honor for the second straight year in 2013.

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