Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing college football player of the past 25 years. Yes, I know that there was Tim Tebow, Matt Leinart and even Peyton Manning before him, but with the way this kid has just completely taken over the sports world since winning the Heisman trophy in 2012 is ridiculous. Manziel has proven that in an age of social media, he is worldwide, hanging with celebrities, and finding his way onto talk shows. With his announcement today about formally entering the NFL Draft, we thought we’d give you a few things that you may not know about Johnny Football.
12. He’s Not Just a Good Football Player
I’m not sure what this kid did short of signing a deal with the Devil, but besides his dominating play on the gridiron, Johnny Manziel proved that he can stroke it on the golf course too, shooting a 79 at Pebble Beach. Yeah, that’s the same Pebble Beach that has hosted a variety of U.S. Open’s, meaning the kid is pretty good with a club in his hands.
11. He Has his Own Camera
Whether you like him or not, college football fans had better been prepared to have Manziel mania, because the media has absolutely eaten up everything this kid did, especially in his second year as the Aggies starter. But things got taken to another level when CBS announced that he would have his own camera during the highly-anticipated game against Alabama earlier this year, making him the first athlete to ever have a lens pointing at him to catch all of his antics.
10. He’s Projected to Go High in the Draft
Sure, Manziel might not possess prototypical height or arm strength, but anyone who has watched what he has done on the field—along with the buzz around everything he does off of it—NFL teams are licking their chops to get this kid in for a workout and interview. Chances are he’ll blow them away with his blue-collar work ethic and charisma, meaning he’ll probably go a little higher than some would think—and hopefully will continue electrifying fans once he gets into the league.
9. His First Love Was Baseball
Although he’s in-line to make millions of dollars in the NFL, Manziel could have possibly been “Johnny Baseball” had he ever stuck with the sport. Admitting that baseball was his first passion and that he always wanted to play in the MLB, Manziel just sort of fell into football instead. I’d say he has made the right decision so far.
8. Texas Didn’t Even Recruit Him
I’m not from Texas, but the word on the street is that high school football in the state is bananas. And at the center of it all is the University of Texas, thanks to its tradition and mega recognition around the country. As great as the program is though, the Longhorns failed to even sniff any of the same air as Manziel during the recruiting process, saying that they saw him more of a defensive back, and that they may have recruited him “a little bit.” Seeing the impact Manziel had on A&M, along with the decline of the Longhorns the past few years, kid would have been the savior they needed in Austin—if only the coaches had noticed him.
7. His Dream Job Isn’t What You Think
For as much as he loved baseball and as accomplished as he is in football, Manziel actually said in an interview that his dream job if not playing football would be back home in Tyler, Texas with his family, doing something in oil and real estate. Given his competitiveness and success, he probably would have been just as good at either one—but tossing a football is something he’s a lot better at.
6. He Has Very Big Feet
Standing at just six-feet, you’d think that Manziel might have other features more proportionate to his height. If you did that, though, you’d be very wrong, because Manziel actually wears size 15 shoe! That’s pretty big, but I guess for how nimble he is and the ease he alludes defenders, he needs every inch in them.
5. He Has Some Very Famous Friends
Although he’s still just 21, given his celeb status, Manziel has copped quite the list of buddies. I’m not referring to a few big men on campus in College Station, but rather people like LeBron James and rapper Drake. That’s pretty cool—even for a dude who has seemingly met everyone over the past year or so.
4. He Was a Bit of a Troublemaker
It might seem obvious given his constant party pics all over social media, but before being the “it” kid in college sports, Manziel was actually arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and having a fake ID, earning him a night in jail. To think that this was just a few months before Johnny Mania took off makes his path to glory even more extraordinary.
3. He Wasn’t Highly Recruited
Sure, the guy ended up at one of the most prestigious college football programs in the country, but coming out of high school in 2011, no one would have imagined Manziel would have accomplished as much as he did in College Station. Why? Well because he was only a three-star recruit and ranked the No. 22 QB prospect by Scout.com, meaning he was never supposed to take over the game the way he did.
2. His Stats go back to High School
OK, so maybe this is contradictory, but even though Manziel wasn’t high on the list of possible star quarterbacks coming into college, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t dominating the opposition. Try these stats on for good measure. In his senior year at Tivy high school, Manziel completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for over 3,600 yards, ran for another 1,674 yards and totaled 77 TDs that season alone (45 passing, 30 rushing, 1 receiving and 1 return). Oh yeah, and he only tossed five interceptions.
1. He’s a Trailblazer for the Heisman
While he wasn’t a true freshman, Manziel did become the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy, taking home the bronze statue following his superb 2012 season. And as electrifying as he was the year that he won it, his stats were actually better in his follow-up campaign—though he lost out to another redshirt freshman this season, Florida State’s Jameis Winston—whom Manziel said he voted for on his ballot.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for ESPY