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

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.”

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

Christy.

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

Damontre Moore.

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

year.

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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