Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 7/18/13
HOOVER, Ala. AJ McCarron is a humble, team-first kid, by nature. For once, though, he seemed genuinely relieved to field questions about typically taboo topics, like dynasties and the Heisman Trophy. Thanks to Johnny Manziel. Last week, Manziel made national headlines when he was a no-show at a few events at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. (July 11-14) and subsequently asked to leave the skills camp hosted by Peyton Manning and Eli Manning with a number of pro and college stars as counselors or featured guests. McCarron, the senior quarterback who has guided Alabama to back-to-back BCS national championships, was also a Manning academy special guest ... and Manziel's roommate for the four-day event at Nicholls State University. The stories vary on what actually led to Manziel's early exile from the camp. But during Wednesday's session at SEC Media Days, he attributed the sudden absence to a combination of over-sleeping in the morning and having a cell phone devoid or any power. Even if Manziel's recollection is accurate, it's worth noting McCarron apparently fulfilled his obligations at the camp on time. And being a humble, team-first kid, it stands to reason he might have tried to wake up Manziel on the morning of July 12 ... if the reigning Heisman was present in his dorm room. Other reports suggest Manziel had stayed out late the previous night, fueling speculation he wasn't even present when McCarron left his dorm the following morning. Which brings us back to Alabama's Thursday session at SEC Media Days. McCarron nixed all Manziel questions with polite responses, calmly refusing to add more smoke to a media firestorm that transcends the lines of pro football, college football and some TMZ-like convergence of sports and entertainment. "Being under the radar is great for me; I've never wanted the spotlight," said McCarron, who passed for 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. He then added: "I know when I step out, in the state of Alabama, I'm always going to be watched. I never want to bring any bad attention to something that's (linked) to me." As for the "fish-bowl mentality" that applies to Manziel and McCarron, the Alabama quarterback simply says: "You can't be a normal 22-year-old kid. Not every 22-year-old is doing what I'm doing, and I can't do what they can do I can't go out and act a fool in public. "Can't drink excessively and end up being wild. I can't do that. I'm not saying I want to live that type of way ... but I want to be the type of guy that younger kids look up to." When pressed for more Manziel-related comments, McCarron gushed about the rematch with Texas A&M the only school to beat Alabama last year on Sept. 14. "Playing in College Station is going to be, uh, awesome." He then ended all Manziel talk with one roundabout statement. "I can't answer any questions on Johnny Manziel's part. My name's A.J. Everything that has do with him, you know, he's his own man," said McCarron, who posted four separate games of four touchdown passes last year, including the BCS title game. "I don't worry about another man's business that's how I was raised. "If (an issue) doesn't have anything to do with you, say nothin'." Amidst the Manziel talk, there were few discussions of the Heisman or even McCarron's reality-TV-star girlfriend, Katherine Webb. But the Tide quarterback, comparatively speaking, perked up when taking questions he actually knew how to answer. On the Crimson Tide (three national championships in four years) potentially being a dynasty: "I don't really know. I certainly haven't heard Coach (Nick) Saban say that. We don't really need a single word to define what we've accomplished as a team and as a university, on the whole. It's all a blessing to be a part of." On the Tide's offense: "I'm always confident, especially when we get between the white lines. I've got to think I'm the best player in the country, on that field. Our offense, you know, feels that same way. I expect us to think that way. And we're going to be an exciting offense to watch." On his childhood idol: "You never saw (NFL star quarterback) Brett Favre not smiling. He always seemed like he got the best out of his teammates and the people around him. He was just that type of guy. On the field, it's like, 'Man, I want to play on the same field with that guy someday.' That's what I'm trying to do ... be the best I can be for my teammates." On the Heisman: "I'd be lying to say, 'Oh, the Heisman, I've never thought about it.' I told someone earlier, my mom still has a picture of me, I don't know if it was Christmas or Halloween, and I was dressed up in an Alabama football costume. "I did the Heisman pose, and she took a picture of it."
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