Johnny Manziel is ready to get back to being Johnny Football.
After not talking to the media all season until Nov. 26, two days after the regular season finale, the Texas A&M quarterback has been from Florida to New York to Hollywood. Along the way, he won the Heisman Trophy and a host of other major awards.
Manziel is back on the College Station campus after a “Tonight Show” appearance this week, when he presented actress Megan Fox with a No. 12 Texas A&M baby jersey for her newborn son. Manziel did a Top 10 list for David Letterman last week, along with plenty of other media appearances as the Heisman winner.
“He got back in here the other day, he just said, ‘Hey, coach, I’m ready to play some football.’ He’s through with all that,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said Wednesday.
“He can get back to just being with his teammates and practicing,” the coach said during a conference call featuring the Cotton Bowl coaches. “Just talking with him yesterday, he looks excited to just be off the circuit, be back in the huddle calling plays.”
No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2) plays 12th-ranked Oklahoma (10-2) at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 4. While Manziel will be the eighth Heisman winner to play in the Cotton Bowl, he is the first since Texas running back Ricky Williams 14 years ago.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said preparing to face Manziel presents unique challenges.
“Unique in that he’s the leading rusher. It makes it really difficult. He throws the ball so well, throws it so well on the run,” Stoops said. “But he’s one of those guys, maybe sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody because there he goes. He just has a great knack, an instinct for avoiding pressure and creating plays.”
Manziel had 4,600 yards of total offense in 12 games to break the SEC record set two years earlier by Heisman winner Cam Newton, who needed 14 games to gain 4,327 yards. Manziel became the first freshman, first player in the SEC and the fifth player overall with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season.
Along with the Heisman Trophy, Manziel was named The Associated Press Player of the Year, the SEC’s top player and the winner of the Davey O’Brien Award that goes to the nation’s top quarterback.
All of this for a kid who just turned 20 years old two weeks ago.
Sumlin said he has had a conversation with his young quarterback about handling things moving forward, and the fact that he’s just getting started.
“People are asking, What are you going to do now? With success, there comes other things,” Sumlin said. “I think we’ve got a lot of the things in place here to help him, which really helped him through the process originally, and we’ve got a lot of things in place that are going to continue to help him handle a lot of these things. ... I think you can see he’s pretty mature for a 20 year old.”
Without being specific, Sumlin said the Aggies would help Manziel through that process.
“But, like I said, shoot, he’s happy to be back here in the building,” Sumlin said. “Sitting in meetings, watching video.”
Notes: With Aggies offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury gone to become Texas Tech’s head coach, Sumlin said running backs coach Clarence McKinney will call plays in the Cotton Bowl. ... Before becoming Houston’s head coach in 2008, and going to A&M after last season, Sumlin was an Oklahoma assistant for Stoops from 2003-07. Before that he was offensive coordinator at Texas A&M for a win over Oklahoma. “I had great respect for Kevin before he was the O-coordinator there when they beat us,” Stoops said. “Heck, Kevin and I used to run around South Florida together recruiting when he was at Purdue, I was at K-State. We were chasing the same kids all the time.”