Johnny Manziel wasn’t tipping his hand about whether the wild, wonderful performance he put on in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was the last of his collegiate career, but it sure seems like the perfect way to go out.
Manziel, after an up-and-down season marked by controversy, led Texas A&M to the biggest comeback in school history and a 52-48 victory over Duke. The Aggies were down 38-17 at halftime and the game looked over…until Johnny Football led the team to four consecutive touchdown drives. Toney Hurd helped Manziel, putting the Aggies up for the first times in the game by intercepting Anthony Boone and racing 55 yards for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left. But mostly it was pure Manziel, who had a word for the game, a perfect word.
“To come back from that … wow. That’s the word I’d use to describe this game,” he said. “Unreal. It’s an NCAA instant classic.”
Manziel was the Johnny Football of a year ago, the one who won the Heisman as a freshman in December 2012 rather than the guy whose offseason was marked by off-key moments and that half-game suspension at the start of the season. He completed 12-of-13 passes in the second half and 30-of-38 overall for 382 yards and four TDs. He also ran for 73 yards and scored a touchdown.
Manziel wasn’t saying afterward what 2014 holds for him, whether it’s the NFL draft or a return to A&M.
“I can’t even think about anything other than this game right now,” he told ESPN’s Samantha Ponder in the immediate emotional aftermath of the victory. “This was unreal. I can’t even begin to sit here and tell you how proud I am of these guys. I love Texas A&M. I love my teammates. Unreal.”
Will he stay or will he go? How does he top this next season if he stays? Would the Houston Texans, with new head coach Bill O’Brien, take him with the No. 1 pick in the draft and keep him in-state? Does he have the size to make it in the NFL? So many questions. This much is certain: He’s come up big in his two big bowl games.
In the Cotton Bowl a year ago against Oklahoma, he had 516 total yards and was responsible for four touchdowns; he had 455 yards on New Year’s Eve and was responsible for five TDs.
Let the debate begin about what he will do, what he should do.