NEW YORK — His road to stardom was anything but a clear path.
Manziel competed with two other quarterbacks to replace Ryan Tannehill as the starter this season, the Aggies’ first in the SEC and first under coach Kevin Sumlin.
Manziel came out of spring practice as the backup, and went to work with a private quarterback coach in the summer to better his chances of winning the job in the preseason.
It worked, but still nobody was hailing Manziel is the next big thing.
Then he started playing and the numbers started piling up.
He had 557 total yards against Arkansas, 576 vs. Louisiana Tech and 440 against Mississippi State.
He also had some struggles against Florida in the season opener and in a home loss to LSU. The question was: Could Johnny Football do his thing against a top-notch opponent?
The answer came in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 10. Going into the matchup against the Crimson Tide, Manziel said he and his teammates heard a lot of doubters.
“You can’t do this and you can’t do that,” he recalled Saturday at the podium
Manziel passed for 253 yards, ran for 92 and the Aggies beat the Tide 29-24. Klein had been the front-runner for most of the season, but Manziel surged after beating ‘Bama.
Still, Manziel was still something of a mystery man. Sumlin’s rules prohibit freshmen from being available to the media. Johnny Football was off-limits, but not exactly silent.
Manziel gave glimpses of himself on social media — including some memorable pictures of him dressed up as Scooby-Doo for Halloween with some scantily clad young women.
Before he became a celebrity, Manziel got himself into some serious trouble. In June, he was arrested in College Station after police said he was involved in a fight and produced a fake ID. He was charged with disorderly conduct and two other misdemeanors.
After the season, Texas A&M took the reins off Manziel and made him available for interviews, allowing Johnny Football to tell his own story.
Though in the end, his play said it all.