2012 Heisman winner Manziel a finalist again

Johnny Manziel isn’t sure if he’ll declare for the NFL draft

next month.

But if he does he’s thought a lot about his legacy and how he

wants to be remembered as one of the best to have ever played and

someone who made a major impact for Texas A&M.

He’s made a pretty compelling argument for both. He’s a finalist

for the Heisman Trophy again, with a chance to join Archie Griffin

as the second player to win the award twice.

”To be a college football player in a skill position, that’s

what you shoot for every year,” Manziel said. ”So to get to New

York and to be one of the best players in the country and then to

be that person to win it, it’s a dream come true for anybody that’s

grown up playing Pop Warner Football, that’s grown up playing

middle school, high school football.”

Johnny Football is one of six players who will attend the

presentation ceremony Saturday night in New York. Manziel isn’t

expected to take home another Heisman after Florida State’s Jameis

Winston burst onto the scene with a spectacular redshirt freshman

season much the way Manziel did last year.

Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman in 2012

after setting numerous school and Southeastern Conference records

while leading Texas A&M to an 11-2 record and a victory over

No. 1 Alabama in its first season in the SEC.

The Aggies were supposed to contend for a national title in

Manziel’s encore. But another standout season by the electric

quarterback wasn’t enough to overcome a porous defense that was

among the worst in the nation. The Aggies finished 8-4.

”This year we definitely had our ups and downs,” Manziel said.

”We didn’t have a final record like we wanted to at the beginning

of the year. But just the whole season and how it’s been, it’s been

a ride.”

That ride for Manziel started when he was suspended for the

first half of the Aggies’ season opener against Rice for what the

school said was an ”inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules

involving signing autographs.

The quarterback was investigated for allegedly accepting money

for autographs from memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules

that could have led to a much longer suspension.

He shook off his early season drama to throw for 3,723 yards and

33 touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 686 yards and eight

more scores. He threw more touchdown passes, had more yards

passing, a better completion percentage and averaged more yards an

attempt than he did in 2012.

He’s third in the nation in total offense with 368.2 yards a

game and fourth in pass efficiency.

Manziel dealt with various nagging injuries this season and said

this week that he’s getting better as the Aggies have some time off

before facing Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31. His thumb

injury is still bothering him the most, but he said it isn’t

anything that would keep him out of the bowl game.

Manziel continued to spend time with quarterback guru George

Whitfield to work on becoming a more polished quarterback.

”I wanted to come back and be a better quarterback, not just a

guy who some people say is a good athlete,” he said. ”I never

wanted to be labeled as that. So to work hard with coach Whitfield

multiple times this summer to put in the work I thought… to get

where I needed to be.”

Left tackle Jake Matthews has enjoyed blocking for Manziel and

said his ability to evade tackles makes his job much easier.

”It’s fun to watch him run around the field and see the things

he does to the other guys,” Matthews said. ”I just try to give

him as much time as I can and let him make the plays.”

Manziel said he thinks he’s ready to play in the NFL, but the

sophomore insists he hasn’t made a decision about his future. Most

assume that he will leave College Station, but despite Tweeting

that he was growing tired of the town this summer, he indicated

that he wasn’t itching to get out.

”I need to take everything in to account,” he said. ”I think

you take that, how the season went. But more than anything, are you

ready for the next level? You don’t want to go be unprepared for

the National Football League or leave two years on the table. You

don’t want to do that.”

”In the grand scheme of things it all comes down to making the

best decision for you.”

Associated Press writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this