MORE JOHNNY MANZIEL COVERAGE AT THE SEC DIGITAL NETWORK
Manziel Quickly Becoming A Household Name (September 30, 2012)
The Making Of A Legend (November 11, 2012)
By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. -- The Heisman Trust made it official on Monday night, naming Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as a finalist for the coveted Heisman Trophy award. The Heisman, given out since 1935, is college football's most prestigious award.
Manziel's case for the 2012 Heisman is strong, with his laundry list of offensive accomplishments staggering for a signal caller competing in their first year at the collegiate (and the SEC) level. He's shattered the Southeastern Conference's total yardage mark (4600 yards), passing former Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Cam Newton along the way, ushering in the era of "Johnny Football" across the nation. For "just a small town kid" as Manziel refers to himself, the Kerrville, Texas, native has taken college football by storm, going from an unknown player in August to a Heisman finalist in December. Manziel will look to become Texas A&M's second Heisman winner, with John David Crow having won in 1957.
The SEC's history with the Heisman trophy goes back 60 years. The league's first ever recipient was Georgia running back Frank Sinkwich in 1942. The former Bulldog is one of 10 SEC Heisman winners, a number growing substantially in the past two decades. The conference has won three out of the last five awards, and has had at least one of the five finalists in six of the past 10 years.
Five different conference teams boast a Heisman winner (while in the SEC), while Texas A&M and South Carolina (George Rodgers, 1980) also had winners while not affiliated with the league.
The Southeastern Conference is known for great defenses, but, when it comes to Heisman it is all about offense. Of the 10 league winners, five were quarterbacks and the other five were running backs. In the past 20 years, only four defensive players from the SEC have finished in the top 10 for the award. LSU's Tyrann Mathieu (2011, 5th), LSU's Glenn Dorsey (2007, 9th), Georgia's Champ Bailey (1998, 7th) and Alabama's Eric Curry (1992, 10th) were able to accomplish that impressive feat.
SEC quarterbacks have been very prominent in the Heisman discussion with 12 (counting Manziel) having made it into the top four since 1993. In addition to QB winners Danny Wuerrfel (Florida), Tebow (Florida) and Newton (Auburn), three others were runner-ups during that span. Those names include Tennessee quarterbacks Heath Shuler and Peyton Manning, and Florida's Rex Grossman.
The SEC has also faced off against itself on several occasions, with two or more players from the league making it to New York as Heisman finalists. In 2007, Tebow won honors, with Arkansas running back Darren McFadden finishing second. The year Alabama's Mark Ingram was named, Tebow finished fifth. Just last year, both Alabama's Trent Richardson and Mathieu were on stage as Heisman finalists.
As can be expected, some of the greatest to ever play in the SEC were voted Heisman Trophy winners The names on the list resonate for fans of all ages. Two former recipients (Steve Spurrier and Pat Sullivan) are now college football coaches, while others (Tebow, Ingram and Newton) are enjoying careers in the National Football League.
Manziel's case is unique, as he attempts to become the first freshman (redshirt) to win the award. While he won't be the youngest by age (Mark Ingram), if Manziel captures the trophy he will have made history. A freshman has come close before (Adrian Peterson, 2004) but Manziel looks to enter rarefied air should he be named Heisman winner.
The 2012 Heisman announcement is Saturday, December 8, and will be shown live on ESPN from the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square. In addition to Manziel, Notre Dame's Manti Teo and Kansas State's Collin Klein are finalists for this year's award.
Can Johnny "Football" make history? We will have to watch and see.
SEC Heisman Winners
1942 Frank Sinkwich HB Georgia
1959 Billy Cannon HB LSU
1966 Steve Spurrier QB Florida
1971 Pat Sullivan QB Auburn
1982 Herschel Walker HB Georgia
1985 Bo Jackson HB Auburn
1996 Danny Wuerrfel QB Florida
2007 Tim Tebow QB Florida
2009 Mark Ingram RB Alabama
2010 Cam Newton QB Auburn