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Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M wins Heisman Trophy

Johnny Manziel leads the Heisman Trophy voting solidly, garnering the most points in five of the nation’s six regions.

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Johnny Manziel leads the Heisman Trophy voting solidly, garnering the most points in five of the nation’s six regions.

NEW YORK — Johnny Football just got himself a way cooler nickname: Johnny Heisman.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, taking college football's top individual prize after a record-breaking debut season.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finished a distant second, and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was third in the voting. In a Heisman race with two nontraditional candidates, Manziel broke through the class barrier and kept Te'o from becoming the first purely defensive player to win.

Manziel drew 474 first-place votes and 2,029 points from the panel of media members across the country and former winners.

"I have been dreaming about this since I was a kid, running around the back yard pretending I was Doug Flutie, throwing Hail Marys to my dad," Manziel said after hugging his parents and younger sister.

Manziel seemed very calm after his name was announced, hardly resembling the guy who dashes around the football field. He simply bowed his head. Later he gave the trophy a quick kiss.

"I wish my whole team could be up here with me," he said.

Te'o had 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points, and Klein received 60 firsts and 894 points. Te'o earned the most points in history for a purely defensive player.

A few days after turning 20, Manziel proved times continue to change in college football and experience can be really overrated.

For years seniors dominated the award named after John Heisman, the pioneering Georgia Tech coach from the early 1900s. In the 1980s, juniors started becoming common winners. Florida's Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win in 2007, and two more won it in the next two seasons.

Manziel, a redshirt freshman, is the second Texas A&M player to win, joining John David Crow (1957). Growing up, Manziel thought he was going to be the next Derek Jeter, hence his No. 2 jersey. Instead he became the biggest football star in College Station since Crow.

And he did so without the slightest hint of preseason hype. Manziel didn't even win the job of replacing Ryan Tannehill as starter until two weeks before the season.

With daring runs and elusive improvisation, Manziel broke 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton's SEC record with 4,600 total yards, led the Aggies to a 10-2 record in their first season in the SEC and orchestrated an upset at then-No. 1 Alabama in November.

He has thrown for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, and run for 1,181 yards and 19 more scores to become the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.

Manziel has one more game this season, when the No. 10 Aggies play Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4 in Arlington, Texas.

Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M wins Heisman Trophy 12/08/12 [Last modified: Sunday, December 9, 2012 12:14am]
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