Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/8/12
It was moment unlike any other in the Heisman Trophys existence. The freshman, the first ever to win the storied award in its 78 years, stood with the collected past winners behind him, dozens more peering back from the portraits lining the wall in Best Buy Theater in Times Square. Johnny Manziel took a deep breath, letting out a whoo before the Texas A&M quarterback broke into a smile. "This is a moment that I've dreamed about since I've been a kid, running around the backyard pretending I was Doug Flutie throwing Hail Marys to my dad," Manziel said. "I'm so blessed to be on a stage with such a group of great guys. To be invited into this fraternity, what a pleasure it really is." Where Herschel Walker, Michael Vick and Adrian Peterson the only other freshmen to earnthe Heismantrip to New York failed, Manziel shattered the glass ceiling and put to rest any stigma or bias of voting for a freshman. Voters, myself included, got it right. Regardless of his age, Manziel was simply the most deserving player of the season. With 2,029 points, he won handily, beating out Notre Dames Manti Teo, who tied Hugh Green in 1980 for the best finish ever for a strictly defensive player, by 503 points, while Kansas States Collin Klein finished third (894). USCs Marqise Lee (207) and Ohio States Braxton Miller (144) rounded out the top five. Manziel drew 474 first-place votes to join a list of trailblazing winners that includes Doc Blanchard (first junior in 1945), Archie Griffin (only two-time winner in 1974 and 75), Tim Brown (first wide receiver in 1987), Charles Woodson (first primarily defensive player in 1997) and Tim Tebow (first sophomore in 2007). In another bit of history, with Manziel and Teo at the top, it was the first vote in history without a running back or an upperclassman in the top two. The freshman hugged Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and then his parents before taking the steps up to the podium, the past winners including the Aggies' only other winner, John David Crow (1957) applauding as he took his place among them. A year that opened with USCs Matt Barkley as nearly everyones preseason favorite saw that title seemingly seized during the season by West Virginia QB Geno Smith, Klein and ultimately and most unexpectedly Manziel. The Kerrville, Texas, native, who redshirted his first season at Texas A&M, first had to beat out redshirt sophomores Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel and freshman Matt Davis for the Aggies starting job. A Parade All-American and National Player of the Year, Manziel was no unknown commodity. But a Heisman contender? It had long been thought that some voters simply wouldn't put a freshman on their ballots. But in a testament to how far the process has come in the past five years which have included not only the first sophomore winner, but three players from that class Manziel appeared on all but eight percent of the ballots. His was a victory that came largely behind the signature victory of the season, Nov. 10 at Tuscaloosa against then-No. 1 Alabama. The day "Johnny Football" went from Texas taste to national phenomenon. For those who say the Heisman has lost its luster, Id argue its regained it. We may well be in the midst of a renaissance for the award. Its no longer about rewarding the best player on a team in the title race, which hampered the Heisman and its perception during the 1990s and part of this decade. The award has simply been awarded to the best player and in this season, its hard to deny that was Manziel. He set SEC and national freshman records with 4,600 yards of total offense 3,419 through the air and 1,181 on the ground and had 43 combined touchdowns, a staggering stat line that became that much more staggering considering he did while playing in the imposing SEC West. It was his dominance in the SEC that was showcased in the South voting region, where Manziel earned his largest margin of victory, beating out Klein by 146 points. In all Manziel won five of the six regions, only missing out on the Midwest, which Teo won by just three points. Teo, who earned 1,706 points, earned the most points in history for a pure defender. There was humility and emotion in Manziels speech, drawing back to the Dec. 22 death of senior offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio. "I'd especially at this time like to honor someone who is near and dear to everyone at Texas A&M in Joey Villavisencio," he said before slightly choking up. "It was around this time last year that a center on our team died in a tragic car accident. It was something that as a whole team we really had to fight through and press on through the bowl game. "To Mr. and Mrs. Villavisencio, if I had a son I'd want him to be just like him. I know Joey's in a better place. Manziel punctuated his speech with a thumbs up and a Gig em, a close that now leads to another debate entirely after the first freshman in history hoisted that 25-pound, bronze idol. Could Johnny Football match, or even surpass Griffin? With at least one, if not three, years remaining at Texas A&M, Manziel has time. But hell also face an entirely new set of expectations, which every winner to return since Griffin can attest. Seven Heisman recipients have attempted to equal Griffin, with only Billy Sims (runner-up in 1979) coming close. Then theres the matter of Manziel's competition. A cast of Lee, Miller, Oregons Marcus Mariota and DeAnthony Thomas will be among the early favorites, and theres certain to be more contenders, like Manziel this season, who come out of nowhere. But none of that matters now. What does is a win thats been decades in the making. This was Johnny Manziels night, his trophy and his place in history.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ottawa Senators visit sick teen during road trip to Minnesota

Jason Kidd believes Isaiah Thomas is in NBA MVP race

Kyrie Irving takes blame for Cavs’ recent skid: ‘I need to demand more out of myself’

Six NFL teams have not renewed their daily fantasy deals

Adrian Peterson works out with Jameis Winston, gets Dirk Koetter’s attention

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Martavis Bryant reinstatement ‘imminent’

Steven Stamkos close to return for the Tampa Bay Lightning

Report: CBS wants Tony Romo to replace Phil Simms

Warriors provide update on Kevin Durant, who could play this season

Griffin to wear shoes designed by young leukemia patient

Jack Del Rio frustrated Raiders can’t provide support to Aldon Smith

The 'So, is this the last ride for the Dead Man?' quiz

2016 MLB playoff teams that won't make it back this season

Box Score 3/29: Free hats (Caps fans only)

The 'Are you mentally prepared for 'One Shining Moment'?' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Serge Ibaka can't connect

Can the Padres' Christian Bethancourt really succeed at pitcher and catcher?

The Raiders will forever belong to Oakland

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Box Score 3/28: Wilt's last game

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Best, worst and hard to stomach MLB offseason moves

The 28 craziest ballpark foods for the 2017 season

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'So, is this the last ride for the Dead Man?' quiz

2016 MLB playoff teams that won't make it back this season

The 'Are you mentally prepared for 'One Shining Moment'?' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Serge Ibaka can't connect

Can the Padres' Christian Bethancourt really succeed at pitcher and catcher?

The Raiders will forever belong to Oakland

Best, worst and hard to stomach MLB offseason moves

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker