As I woke up this morning, lying in bed reading my twitter timeline from the night before like I do every morning, I stumbled on this article written by Chris Huston (better known as the Heisman Pundit) for CBS Sports, proudly proclaiming that Johnny Manziel will never win the Heisman again. I became a little enraged with it, mainly because the main point of their argument was that "It will simply never happen again. Those guys didn't know what they were doing in the 70's giving it to Archie Griffin twice because it was the 70's".
In fact, I could have written that article better. The fact is this year was the perfect resume for Johnny Manziel to win the Heisman trophy. He broke SEC records for single game yardage and total yardage in a season. He took Texas A&M to their best season since 1998. He stormed into the Southeastern Conference and made All-Conference defenders look foolish. The crowning jewel to the resume was that victory over #1 Alabama on national TV in Tuscaloosa. He was a fresh face the country didn't know some weeks before. He wasn't boring like the other Heisman candidates of Collin Klein and Manti Te'o. That my friends, is the perfect Heisman winning resume. The only thing better would be if Texas A&M was actually competing in the BCS Title Game.
For Manziel to be able to at least match that in the next three years? It is going to be hard to do. Yes, people will expect more. People will want to see the jaw-dropping plays on every down. People will want to see better numbers. And I believe Texas A&M will have to be in the National Championship game, or at least the 4 team playoffs beginning in 2014, for him to win it again.
The one thing everyone will be missing in this discussion about the future of Johnny Manziel is that he has the opportunity to re-invent himself as a football player and quarterback next season. What do I mean by that? In the spring and over the summer, Manziel has the opportunity to continue to develop into the best quarterback in all of college football. I mean an actual quarterback, too. A field general. He will have the coaches around him and the skill position players to make him one of the best gunslingers in the game. Less of the scrambles, more of the arm. That is something new people won't be expecting, and something different that could catapult him back into being the Heisman favorite.
Stop and just think about the future of the Texas A&M offense. Let's start with the offense line. Next season, their is a chance that the 2012 Outland Trophy winner in Luke Joeckel and fellow future first round NFL Draft pick Jake Matthews returns. Combine that with the insertion of Mike Matthews at the Center position, and you are talking about an even better offensive line than in 2012. It's one more year in the system, and more importantly they know now how to block for a scrambling quarterback in Johnny Manziel.
At running back, Christine Michael will have departed. However, two transfers will now be eligible in Oklahoma transfer and phenom Brandon Williams along with Oregon transfer and powerback Tra Carson. Brandon Williams is currently one of the most electric players in the Texas A&M program and was born to play in this style of offense. I can't wait to see him on the field. And Tra Carson will replace the power running game of Christine Michael, giving us an option on 3rd and shorts as well as at the goalline. Oh yeah, Ben Malena and Trey Williams also return.
Blocking for those guys out of the shotgun will still be Nehemiah Hicks, and Texas A&M has currently committed the best JUCO tight end in the country, former Tennessee commitment Cameron Clear. The 6'6 270 pound Clear is a real tight end that will not only be a blocker at the line opening up the run game but also a pass catcher over the middle, giving the offense an option they didn't have this year. His involvement as a blocker and passer also opens the door for an increased offensive tempo next season since Clear can stay at the line and block, block out of the backfield, and also line up wide as a receiver meaning multiple formations with the same personnel grouping on the field.
And finally the wide receivers. While this group loses Ryan Swope and deep threat Kenric McNeal, the talent coming into Aggieland is simply the nation's best. It starts with currently committed 6'3 and 205 pound JaQuay Williams from Fork Union Military, a prep school. Williams is originally from Georgia and the states top receiving prospect in the 2012 recruiting class. Coming from a prep school and not being a JUCO transfer, Williams is just like a college freshman with 5 years to play 4. His home state Georgia Bulldogs wanted JaQuay badly because he combines his length with elite speed. He can beat anyone outside or his ability to beat a defender for a jump ball one on one. A receiver from Texas this year just like him is Manvel's Kyrion Parker, who is the best pure receiver in the state this year. Laquvionte Gonzales from Cedar Hill is only 5'10 and 150 pounds, but a versatile player for Kingsbury and Sumlin. Playing the slot, I imagine short swing passes to beat defenders one one one in space as well as those fly sweeps we have seen a couple of times this season. And of course, there is Sealy's Ricky Seals-Jones. The best player in the state of Texas for 2013 is 6'5 and 220 pounds and would be a matchup nightmare in this offense if he chooses the Aggies over LSU on Monday.
Can you imagine a 5 wide look next season? Mike Evans, JaQuay Williams, Laquvionte Gonzales, Kyrion Parker and Ricky Seals-Jones. Kliff Kingsbury and Manziel can sit at the line of scrimmage and pick out any match-up they want without ever allowing the defense to substitute out players. Sub in Ben Malena or Brandon Williams and Cam Clear, now you have to watch out for the run. This offensive will attack you in every way possible -- horizontally allowing our guys to make plays in space and testing your tackling abilities on the edge. Then when you start cheating outside, we will run right up the middle. Bringing those safeties down to stop the run? We will go right over the top. Un. Stop. Able.
Excited yet? The offensive talent around Manziel for next season and years to come is just sick. With great runningbacks and receivers, Manziel can evolve his game. This weekend in New York, someone asked if he envisioned himself as a point guard. He said he could see himself as Steve Nash and I think that is a great example for what Manziel can become in the future. He is a facilitator of the football to the All-Conference talent around him while still being able to make WOW plays on his own when necessary. He can force it on you when he wants, has the potential to win a game on his own if he has to, but takes a step back to get others around him involved. That is where the next step for Manziel will come.
And if he does those things? He will still put up great numbers. Maybe his rushing yards will go down because he doesn't scramble out of the pocket so much because he will now have multiple receivers that can get open on their own and defensive miss-matches he can exploit. He can still put up 450, 500 yards a game on his own but in a different way -- a majority coming from his arm and letting his teammates make their own plays after the catch. For future Heisman voters that will be new, exciting, and not the same old Johnny Football. That is Johnny "I'm the best quarterback in the best offense in the game". That can earn him another Heisman Trophy.
It's going to be a fun next few years in Aggieland, folks. The potential is growing for the offense and Manziel to continue to evolve into the unstoppable attack that coaches Kingsbury and Sumlin envisioned when they took this job. As the offense grows, so should Manziel as a passer with the talent around him. You match those new skills that will continue to frustrate even the best defensive minds in the SEC along with an even better team record and a trip to a national championship or playoffs on the horizon? Johnny Heisman has it made once again.