Thursday, July 18, 2013
Aggies bombarded with Manziel questions
By Sam Khan Jr.
HOOVER, Ala. -- While his uber-famous teammate was engulfed by dozens of reporters -- easily more than 50 -- on the opposite side of the main press conference room on the second floor of the Wynfrey Hotel, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews fielded a question from a much smaller crowd about his quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The question had to do with Matthews' thoughts on Manziel's "Johnny Football" nickname.
"Y'all need to give me a nickname," Matthews joked.
Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, along with his Aggies teammates, have been inundated with Johnny Manziel questions.
Setting aside the fact that Matthews is probably right -- he is, after all, going to be in charge of protecting the reigning Heisman Trophy winner's blind side this fall, is part of the impressive Matthews football family and will be a possible first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft -- it was a small glimpse into what SEC media day was like for Manziel's teammates: much talk about Johnny.
It could be argued that the offseason publicity that has followed Manziel has resulted into his Aggies' teammates being overshadowed. Even with attention Manziel receives, which might be unprecedented for a college football player, his teammates are focused on Manziel the football player, not Manziel the offseason celebrity.
"I try not to concern myself with [his off the field activities]," Matthews said. "He's a great guy. Especially after winning the Heisman. One thing I've noticed is that he's the same as he was before. He still treats all the players the same way he did before. He's still determined and I'm faithful and I have trust in him that he's going to be ready for this season and ready for what's coming."
On Sunday, senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. took to his Twitter account to give some public support to Manziel in the midst of the scrutiny Manziel received for leaving the Manning Passing Academy early. Hurd tweeted "My dawg just can't catch a break. @JManziel2 . Gotta let him live..."
On Wednesday, Hurd said that the team's perspective of its most popular star hasn't changed.
"The things that I know, being his teammate, I know our perception of him hasn't changed," Hurd said. "We know that he's out there grinding and working hard."
Hurd said Manziel's work ethic is still strong.
"He's been through a lot of ups and downs but at the end of the day, personally, I know that he's a very dedicated person," Hurd said. "I know that he wants to be the best quarterback in college football. He wants to be the premier quarterback. I know he's working hard, getting his mechanics down pat, so when it comes time to play Rice he'll be ready."
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin called it "an experience" to be asked about Manziel frequently. He acknowledged that Manziel's decision making has fallen on both sides of the spectrum.
"I think off the field, there's no question that he's made some mistakes," Sumlin said. "Is he perfect? No. I think he has done some things that he's not very proud of, has made some poor decisions. He's made some good decisions. Unfortunately, the poor decisions are the ones that are really publicized. It's a growing process. It's a learning process."
Might even Manziel's teammates be experiencing a little Johnny Fatigue?
"Yeah, maybe a little bit," Matthews said with a smile. "I wish you guys cared more about me."