Johnny Manziel will win the Heisman Trophy.
Just not in 2012, though.
The Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback became nationally known on Saturday as he led the Aggies to a shocking 29-24 upset over No. 1 Alabama. But while Manziel has certainly proven that he deserves to be in the Heisman conversation, his overall resume isn’t polished enough to take home the hardware.
If a single game is enough to win the Heisman, one could certainly make the case for Johnny Football. Against the best defense in the nation, he completed 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 92 yards as well.
Johnny Manziel became the second freshman quarterback since 1972 to win a game against the AP top-ranked team on the road.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 11, 2012
Johnny Manziel is the only player averagin at least 10 yds per rush AND 10 yds per pass attempt on 3rd down. #JohnnyFootball— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 9, 2012
But if a single game is enough, what about Kenjon Barner? He rushed for a jaw-dropping 321 yards and five touchdowns against USC.
How about Collin Klein? He completed 19 of 21 passes for 323 yards and scored seven—I repeat, seven—touchdowns vs. West Virginia.
All too often, sports fans think with a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mindset. They hype up the last outstanding outing they witnessed as “the greatest they ever saw.”
And that’s what some are touting Manziel’s evening against Alabama as, even though, while they recorded their numbers against inferior defenses, Barner and Klein had equally historic stat lines just several weeks prior.
Of course, a single game isn’t enough to earn a Heisman candidate the hardware. A resume must impress from top to bottom. And that’s what Barner's and Klein’s do.
And Manziel’s doesn’t.
Barner is second among BCS-caliber halfbacks in rushing yards. He’s also tied for first in rushing touchdowns, with none other than Klein. On top of that, the Kansas State QB boasts the eighth highest passer rating in the country.
Sure, Manziel is just as impressive a ball-carrier as Klein. While he boasts four fewer touchdowns, he’s rushed for over 250 more yards.
Through the air, though, the freshman just doesn’t measure up. He’s ranked 27th in passer rating this season. That’s lower than Pittsburgh’s Tino Sunseri (who may trend on Twitter for poor play more than any other quarterback in college football).
Against LSU a few weeks ago—on the same day as Klein's seven-touchdown performance—Manziel threw three interceptions and didn’t account for a touchdown in a 24-19 loss. If pundits erased Geno Smith’s name off their Heisman lists for his performance against Kansas State, they can’t forget about Manziel’s hiccup at home on October 20th.
Johnny Football is special and it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t eventually enter the NFL Draft with at least one Heisman Trophy. This season, though, if Barner and Klein continue their displays of dominance, they’re the only true runners in the Heisman race.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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