Johnny Manziel: Aggies QB Shows Maturity Beyond His Years in Alabama Upset

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates after a touchdown during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Johnny Manziel is only a redshirt freshman, but you wouldn't know it from watching him play against No. 1 Alabama.

Just check out this play:

That alone sums up Johnny Football's magic on Saturday. When the Aggies needed a big throw, he made it. When Alabama was bearing down on him in the pocket, he escaped. When Texas A&M needed him to break a big run, he did it.

He was everything for Kevin Sumlin's squad. He didn't force any of Alabama's three turnovers, but it wouldn't surprise me if he could have played on defense.

Walking into Tuscaloosa and doing what he did isn't easy. Doing it against Nick Saban's squad at all isn't easy, according to Pac-12 Digital reporter Bryan Fischer:

Looked through box scores, Manziel's 345 total yards are the second most by a player vs. Alabama the past 5 seasons.

— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 11, 2012

That's absolutely remarkable. He's not a seasoned veteran, yet he was able to walk into Bryant-Denny Stadium like it was nothing and crumple the Tide's BCS dreams in one magnificent heap.

But we shouldn't be that surprised, not if you've watched Johnny Football play all season long. After Saturday's performance, he has 2,780 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Add in 1,014 rushing yards and 15 rushing scores and you have yourself one of the best all-around talents in college football.

He's solidified himself as the SEC's most dynamic player, and he's refused to go away in Heisman Trophy talks. Whenever you think he might take a step back, he does something like this.

It's one thing to tear apart Auburn, Arkansas or Louisiana Tech, but this is Alabama. The nation's No. 1 defense has been a machine, but the dual-threat quarterback always seemed to be one step ahead. His elusiveness and heady play made him a nightmare to slow down from tape to tape.

Manziel could have folded after his team jumped out to a 20-0 lead. Alabama pushed back, closing the lead to 20-14. He faced adversity, stared it in the face and triumphed in a massive situation. That's not something anyone should expect from a first-year starter.

It's about more than talent for Manziel. He has the "it" factor, stepping his game up when things matter the most. That's not the mark of a good player; that's the mark of a college football icon. There's very little doubt that this is the last time you'll see something like this from Bleacher Report's Twitter feed, or anyone else's for that matter:

Johnny Football 4 Heisman!…

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 11, 2012

Manziel is must-watch television. He makes the Aggies' future shine bright, and that's not going to change.

Players who combine his level of ability with moxie and mental toughness usually stick around, making a name for themselves with countless big performances.

Lucky for us, we get to see Manziel do this for at least a few more years. It was hard to tell on Saturday, but this kid isn't a senior. He's just getting started.