Newest XFL coach assumes Johnny Manziel will be eligible for league's draft

The XFL rounded out its 2020 head coaching roster this week with a notable name from college football, and but an even bigger name from college football could still be on the league's radar.

Addressing the media after his introduction as the coach and general manager for the XFL's Houston franchise, former longtime Hawaii and SMU coach June Jones suggested ex-Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel could soon have a home in the league.

Jones first explained that he "learned real quick" in his career that "good players make good coaches ... and that obviously starts with the quarterback, No. 1." And when informed Manziel is often a popular suggestion at QB in the area considering the former Cleveland Browns starter was born, raised and came to fame in Texas, Jones didn't downplay the possibility of pursuing him.

"I had Johnny in Hamilton," he said, referring to Manziel's 2018 stint with the CFL's Tiger-Cats where Jones was the head coach. "I enjoyed the five or six weeks (with him) ... He played very good for me, actually. Johnny is an interesting guy. He's competitive. He's proven that he has won. He's just been through a lot in the last three or four years. That's kind of a league decision there, but definitely I assume that he'll be in the draft pool. I assume that."

Manziel had previously been an unlikely candidate for the relaunched XFL, as league founder Vince McMahon explicitly told reporters in January 2018 that no players with a criminal record would be allowed to join. Conflicting reports about Manziel's eligibility emerged at the same time, while Manziel himself tweeted at McMahon in an apparent hint at playing in the XFL.

A Heisman trophy winner at Texas A&M and first-round pick of the Browns in 2014, Manziel is just as well known for his off-field struggles as his football career. A series of arrests and substance abuse issues ended his Cleveland career after just two seasons, and since then, he's bounced around the CFL and now-defunct Alliance of American Football in an effort to resurrect his NFL career. He first landed in the CFL, with Jones as his coach, after months-long negotiations with Hamilton but was traded to the Montreal Alouettes two months later.

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