NEW ORLEANS— Johnny Manziel, the captivating star from Texas A&M University, has become the first freshman to win the Manning Award, presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He is also the first unanimous selection for the honor, which recognizes the top quarterback in the nation. The Manning Award, now in its ninth year, was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting. The award is voted on by a panel of local and national media, as well as each of the Mannings.
“On behalf of my family, I would like to congratulate Johnny Manziel on his outstanding season,” said Archie Manning. “It is very difficult for a young player to make the transition to college football, and Johnny not only made the transition seamlessly, he turned in the best year of any quarterback in the country. I would also like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for all of its support and for creating this honor to recognize a great quarterback each year.”
Manziel’s spectacular debut season has featured a long list of unprecedented accomplishments. In addition to becoming the first freshman to win the Manning Award, he is the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien Award. He is the first freshman in FBS history, and just the fifth player ever, to have 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He is also the first player in FBS history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game three times in his career. Manziel closed his first collegiate campaign as the FBS freshman record-holder for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,343) and for total yards in a season (5,116) and became just the second freshman in FBS history to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards.
The 6-1, 200-pounder joined a pair of previous Manning Award winners from the Southeastern Conference, Florida’s Tim Tebow and Auburn’s Cam Newton, by passing and running for 20 touchdowns in the same season. The only other player in college football history to reach those lofty numbers was Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick.
The Kerrville, Texas, product also set a trio of impressive SEC records with his 5,116 yards of total offense, his 576 total yards in one game (breaking his own record of 557 set two weeks earlier) and by passing for 3,000 yards and rushing for 1,000 yards in the same season.
On the school level, Manziel also set a host of records – including the Aggie record for consecutive 300-yard passing games (nine), the school standard for rushing yards by a quarterback and the record for rushing touchdowns in a season (21), breaking an 85-year old mark.
“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is honored to have the opportunity to recognize Johnny Manziel with this year’s Manning Award,” said Paul Hoolahan, the chief executive officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. “He jumped onto the national scene right from the start and then he capped things off with a truly remarkable bowl game performance. He proved himself all year and is very deserving to be our first unanimous selection for the honor.”
In his first career bowl game, Manziel capped his amazing season by wowing the Cotton Bowl crowd, completing 22-of-34 passes for 287 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running for 229 yards and two more scores in a 41-13 victory over 12th-ranked Oklahoma. His 229 rushing yards set the bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback. His 516 yards of total offense were 204 more than Oklahoma tallied as a team.
The other finalists for this year’s Manning Award were: Matt Barkley (Sr., Southern California), Tajh Boyd (Jr., Clemson), Collin Klein (Sr., Kansas State), Jordan Lynch (Jr., Northern Illinois), Marcus Mariota (Fr., Oregon), AJ McCarron (Jr., Alabama), Braxton Miller (So., Ohio State), Aaron Murray (Jr., Georgia) and Geno Smith (Sr., West Virginia).
Manziel is the ninth winner of the Manning Award. USC’s Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas’ Vince Young in 2006. Both went on to be top 10 NFL draft picks. In 2007, LSU’s JaMarcus Russell earned the award and was the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick. Boston College’s Matt Ryan claimed the award in 2008 and was drafted No. 3, quickly becoming the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Florida star Tim Tebow earned the honor – he also went on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 2010 winner was Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the draft. Auburn’s Cameron Newton earned the award in 2011, prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. Last year’s honoree was Robert Griffin, III, from Baylor, who was also a top NFL draft pick (No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins).
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