After four-plus years of studying (and teaching) Case Keenum, you'd think first-year Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury would be able to spot the kind of quarterback who'll be able to lead their preferred up-tempo, high-flying offense.
It's now redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel who'll have the opportunity to prove it.
"Johnny has performed the best at this stage and we will proceed until the season opener with him getting the first-team reps," Sumlin said. "My policy is simple really; the best player plays. Competition is a great thing and we need more competition at all of our positions. All of our quarterbacks have competed well, and I expect them to continue to push Johnny."
Though sophomore Matt Joeckel and true freshman Matt Davis were among the group of four quarterbacks vying for the starting spot beginning in the spring and continuing through the start of fall camp, most expected the battle to come down to Manziel and sophomore Jameill Showers--the only candidate of the four to have any on-field experience with the Aggies, and the one expected by many to win the job coming out of spring drills.
But Sumlin said from the beginning that every player entered on equal footing and Manziel had performed consistently well in camps, culminating in a superior Saturday scrimmage outing that may have clinched him the job.
Though Manziel enjoyed a Parade All-American senior season -- throwing for 3,609 yards, posting a 45-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and rushing for 1,647 yards and 30 more scores to boot -- he wasn't considered a high-profile prospect coming out of Kerrville, Texas, with A&M and Baylor the only Big 12 Texas schools to issue him an offer. (He did, however, also reportedly pick up one from the noted dual-threat quarterback factory at Oregon.)
Manziel's chances of winning the starting job appeared to take a hit in June, however, when he was arrested after an on-campus fight, found to have a fake ID in his wallet, and charged with three sepearate misdemeanors.
The Aggies will open their season Thursday, August 30, with a road game at Lousiana Tech in Shreveport, La.