Johnny Football is Mr. SEC after dynamic debut
ATLANTA (AP) — Johnny Football is Mr. SEC.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was a unanimous choice Monday for Associated Press Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year after a dynamic debut season in College Station.
The charismatic redshirt freshman known as "Johnny Football" passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushed for 1,181 yards and an SEC-leading 19 TDs, and guided the Aggies to a surprising 10-2 mark in their first SEC season, including an upset of No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones edged out South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney for the defensive player of the year award. Jones leads the conference with 22.5 tackles behind the line and ranks second to Clowney with 12.5 sacks.
Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin was named coach of the year, beating out Florida's Will Muschamp.
Manziel also was an overwhelming choice as freshman of the year, in addition to being selected on all ballots as the first-team quarterback — not bad in a league that features the nation's two highest-rated passers: Alabama's A.J. McCarron and Georgia's Aaron Murray.
"This season has been incredibly surreal," Manziel said. "It's beyond my wildest imagination. It's a true testament to how this team has grown every week, because without these guys none of my individual success would be anything."
He is also considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded in New York on Saturday. Manziel has put up bigger numbers than former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, a landslide pick for the Heisman in 2010.
No freshman has ever won college football's highest individual honor.
"He's a tremendous competitor and a tremendous leader, and that's something that you really don't see in a player as a redshirt freshman," Sumlin said. "His leadership on and off the field throughout the season has made our season a real successful one."
Though Manziel struggled a bit in the Aggies' two losses, to SEC stalwarts Florida and LSU, he became a national sensation with his dazzling runs and catchy nickname. Then, with the season winding down, he sent his profile soaring by leading Texas A&M to a stunning victory over the defending national champion Crimson Tide.
"I'm a small-town kid," said Manziel, who grew up in Kerrville, Texas. "I don't see myself as Johnny Football."
Like Manziel, Jones was a unanimous selection to the first team. The junior passed up a chance to enter the NFL draft and certainly helped his status with another big season between the hedges, even though the Georgia star missed a couple of games with nagging injuries.
"There have been games this year where he has made a phenomenal amount of plays," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "The guy is probably one of the best defensive players in the country in terms of his playmaking ability. He's a really good rusher. He's physical. He's instinctive."
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