While Manti Te'o dazzled on defense for Notre Dame and Collin Klein led his Kansas State team to the national championship doorstep before falling to Baylor, the race for the 2012 Heisman Trophy goes into its final two weeks with Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel leading the charge.
Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin has a policy that prevents freshmen from speaking to the media, but with Texas A&M's regular season in the books, Manziel hit the campaign circuit on Monday afternoon, participating in an hour-long conference call with the media.
He didn't disappoint.
Manziel leads all of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in total offense with 383.3 yards per game and leads the SEC in rushing with 98.42 yards per game on the ground.
Those numbers are eye-popping to everybody, including Manziel.
"I wanted to come out and have a good year," Manziel said. "There's no way I expected to come out and have this type of success."
That type of success should lead to Manziel taking the Heisman Trophy back to College Station in two weeks. His ability to consistently put up video game numbers in the nation's top college football conference as a redshirt freshman is truly remarkable.
It should come as no shock that his conference call on Monday featured several video game questions and answers.
"When I created a video game player, I made him 6'6" 230 pounds, Manziel said. "I wouldn't make him my size. I'd make him look like [former Auburn quarterback] Cam Newton."
Speaking of Newton, the season Manziel has posted in 2012 is remarkably similar to Newton's Heisman winning season in 2010, former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III's last season and former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's in 2007.
Manziel and Te'o are fighting similar fights. It's hard for any freshman or defensive player to garner enough attention to impress Heisman voters, most of whom give preference to veteran offensive players. To their credit, they've not only got the attention, but are Nos. 1 and 2 according to CBSSports.com's Chris Huston.
While Te'o has been a force and I love the fact that we are discussing defensive players as legitimate candidates, the award is supposed to go to the most outstanding player in college football.
Sumlin's system played a part, but Manziel's play is a big reason why the Aggies have shed themselves of the "soft" stigma in favor of something much different—"dangerous."
Think about where this team was at this time last season—6-6 and consistently throwing away big second-half leads. Manziel not only turned the team around, he turned around the nationwide view of the Texas A&M football program. If that's not "outstanding," I'm not sure what is.
Despite that, Manziel seemed humble in his first visit with the media.
"I don't see myself as 'Johnny Football', I see myself as Jonathan Manziel from Kerrville."
He better decide what to call himself soon, because his name is about to be etched on the Heisman Trophy.
Barrett Sallee is a Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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