Johnny Football is Mr. SEC after dynamic debut
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
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
”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
”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
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
”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
”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.”
Jones had two sacks, one stop behind the line and forced a
fumble in last Saturday’s thrilling SEC championship game. Georgia
had a shot to play for the national title, but they lost to Alabama
32-28. The Crimson Tide will face top-ranked Notre Dame for the BCS
crown on Jan. 7.
Five other players were unanimous picks for the first team:
South Carolina’s Clowney, cornerbacks Johnthan Banks of Mississippi
State and Dee Milliner of Alabama, Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton,
and Alabama center Barrett Jones.
Florida, which had a comeback season under Muschamp and earned a
BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl, led all schools with six players on the
first team. Tight end Jordan Reed and running back Mike Gillislee
made it from the offense, tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam
represented the defense, and the Gators landed both specialists off
their superb special teams – kicker Caleb Sturgis and punter Kyle
Alabama, which will be seeking its third national title in four
years when it faces the Fighting Irish, had four first-teamers.
Barrett Jones and Milliner were joined by offensive lineman Chance
Warmack and linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Texas A&M also landed four players on the first team after
jumping from the Big 12 to the SEC along with Missouri. Two of the
linemen who protected Manziel so well, Luke Joeckel and Jake
Matthews, were selected by the voters, as was defensive end
The rest of the first team included Georgia freshman running
back Todd Gurley, receiver Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt,
all-purpose threat Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee, offensive
lineman Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State, defensive tackle Sheldon
Richardson of Missouri and a pair of LSU defensive standouts,
linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid.
Barrett Jones, Jarvis Jones and Sturgis were the only repeat
first-teamers from the AP’s 2011 All-SEC team.
LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery and Georgia safety Bacarri
Rambo both slipped from the first team a year ago to the second
team this season. Heading in the opposite direction were Jackson,
Banks and Reid, all making the jump from second-teamers last
Every school was represented by at least one player on the first
or second teams except Auburn, which endured a winless season in
the SEC and finished 3-9 overall. Coach Gene Chizik was fired after
a blowout loss to Alabama, losing his job just two years after
guiding the Tigers to a national championship.
The 80th annual AP All-SEC team was selected by a panel
comprised of 14 media members representing each of the expanded
conference’s 11 states.
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