Johnny Manziel becomes first freshman to win Manning Award

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer
A big Cotton Bowl performance clinched another award for Johnny Football. (US Presswire)

Here's to hoping Johnny Manziel has already invested in a larger mantlepiece.

The honors have kept coming in the wake of what might be the greatest freshman season of all-time, with the Manning Award announcing Wednesday that the Texas A&M quarterback sensation has become the award's first freshman recepient. Manziel is also the award's first unanimous selection.

Now in its ninth season, the Manning Award was created by (and is presented by) the Sugar Bowl in honor of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, and it is given to the nation's best quarterback, with a twist -- the award is the only one for FBS quarterbacks voted on following the bowl season.

Given Manziel's incredible performance in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma -- 22 of 34 for 287 yards in the air, 229 more yards on the ground, four combined touchdowns -- the outcome of the voting was never in doubt.

"On behalf of my family, I would like to congratulate Johnny Manziel on his outstanding season," Archie Manning said, per the Times-Picayune. "It is very difficult for a young player to make the transition to college football, and Johnny not only made the transition seamlessly, he turned in the best year of any quarterback in the country. I would also like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for all of its support and for creating this honor to recognize a great quarterback each year."

Manziel beat out nine other finalists for the honor, which included Matt Barkley, Tajh Boyd, Collin Klein, Jordan Lynch, Marcus Mariota, AJ McCarron, Braxton Miller, Aaron Murray, and Geno Smith.

Manziel's final stats for the season still boggle the mind: 3,706 passing yards, a 26-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 1,410 rushing yards, 21 rushing touchdowns. Manziel finished in the national top-25 in passing yardage, QB rating, yards-per-attempt, rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, and, of course, total offense, where the Cotton Bowl pushed him past Baylor's Nick Florence to the top spot.

Forget the mantlepiece: if Manziel can keep himself out of off-field trouble and in good health, he's going to need an entire room full of mantlepieces.

For more college football news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCFB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, college football newsletter, and get the Eye On College Football Podcast from iTunes. You can follow Jerry Hinnen on Twitter here: @JerryHinnen.

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