A&M’s Johnny Football is AP’s Player of the Year

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He did just that and started piling up highlight reel material by deftly avoiding would-be tacklers to help the Aggies run off five consecutive wins after that.

His storybook ride hit a roadblock when he threw a season-high three interceptions in a 24-19 loss to LSU. But Manziel used it as a learning experience, taking to heart some advice he received from Kingsbury.

“He just told me to have a plan every time, before every snap,” Manziel said. “Make sure you have a plan on what you want to do and where you want to go with the ball.”

“I feel like as the year went on, I just learned the offense more and knew exactly where I wanted to go, instead of maybe evading the blitz and just taking off running for the first down instead of hitting a hot route or throwing it underneath to an open guy and doing things a lot simpler and cleaner.”

The Aggies and Manziel rebounded from the loss to LSU by winning their last five games, highlighted by their stunning 29-24 upset of top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 10.

By the time Manziel wrapped up a 253-yard passing and 92-yard rushing performance to lead Texas A&M to the victory in Tuscaloosa, you could hardly call him a freshman anymore.

“You keep growing and growing every week,” he said. “By the time I played Alabama I had a much better grasp of the game than I did in the first one.”

The 4,600 yards of total offense Manziel gained in 12 games broke the SEC record for total yards in a season. The record was previously held by 2010 Heisman winner Newton, who needed 14 games to pile up 4,327 yards. The output also made him the first freshman, first player in the SEC and fifth player overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.

Manziel, who turned 20 two days before taking home the Heisman, has been so busy he hasn’t had a second to step back and digest the historical significance of his accomplishments this season.

He’s far more concerned with helping the Aggies extend their winning streak to six games with a win over Oklahoma on Jan. 4 in the Cotton Bowl.

“I think it will happen after the bowl game and after the season is completely over,” he said. “I’m just ready for it to die down a little bit and get back into a practice routine where we get better and hopefully do what we want to do in the bowl game.”

He’ll have to do it without his mentor Kingsbury, who left A&M last week to become coach at Texas Tech, where he starred at quarterback not that long ago. Manziel said is happy Kingsbury got to return to his alma matter, but is still adjusting to the idea of playing without him.

“I’m the happiest guy on the face of the earth for him,” Manziel said, speaking from California where he appeared on the “Tonight Show” Monday evening. “I think he deserves it with how hard he’s worked this year to get us where we were. It’s bittersweet though, because I’d like him to be here for the entire time that I’m here.”

Manziel is eager to get back on the field for the Cotton Bowl and is focused on helping the offense pick up where it left off in the regular-season finale.

“Even though Kliff Kingsbury’s not here anymore, we just need to continue to get better and do what we do,” Manziel said. “Push tempo, go fast and be the high-flying offense that we have been all year.”

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