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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Updated: January 9, 11:00 AM ET
Johnny Manziel to enter NFL draft

By Sam Khan Jr.
ESPN.com

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The wait is over.

Johnny Manziel finally made public what has been speculated for months and what leaked earlier in the day.

The Texas A&M quarterback announced Wednesday that he will forgo his final two years of NCAA eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL draft. The news closes the book on an eventful college career, one that saw him break records and break barriers when in 2012 he became the first freshman in college football history to win the Heisman Trophy.

In a statement released through Texas A&M, Manziel said it wasn't an easy decision to make.

"After long discussions with my family, friends, teammates and coaches, I have decided to make myself available for the 2014 NFL draft," Manziel said. "The decision was not an easy one, but we all felt this was the right time to make the next step toward a professional career. My experiences here and the support of this school, coach [Kevin] Sumlin, chancellor [John] Sharp, my teammates, my classmates and Aggie football fans everywhere will be something that I carry with me for the rest of my life. I'll always be an Aggie."

Manziel penned a separate letter to Texas A&M fans, which was posted on TexAgs.com:

Johnny's farewell to Aggieland: pic.twitter.com/nYOk0hkc3P

— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) January 8, 2014

Manziel filed the official paperwork to declare himself eligible for the draft Wednesday. His decision was reported earlier Wednesday by NFL.com.

To prepare for pre-draft workouts, Manziel plans to relocate to San Diego for the next few months to train with George Whitfield, the private quarterback coach with whom Manziel has trained the past two summers, according to CBSSports.com.

As a redshirt sophomore, Manziel threw for a school-record 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 759 yards and nine scores. He owns the two best total-yardage seasons in SEC history, breaking Cam Newton's record last year by posting 5,116 yards and following it with 4,873 this season. He finished his career just 11 yards shy of becoming the first sophomore in college football history to gain 10,000 career yards.

Manziel helped lead Texas A&M to a 20-6 record in the Aggies' first two seasons as an SEC member and two bowl game victories. In his 26-game career, he set at least 35 school, SEC and NCAA records.

He is rated as the No. 12 player on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board, and Scouts Inc. ranks him as the 18th-best player in the NFL draft. ESPN college football and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay projected Manziel to go fourth overall in his initial mock draft of the 2014 cycle.

"In all of my years of coaching, Johnny Manziel is the most exciting football player I have ever seen," Sumlin said. "We appreciate everything he has done for Texas A&M and Aggie football and wish him nothing but the best."

As for Manziel's representation, multiple sources told ESPN's Darren Rovell on Tuesday that Manziel has chosen Select Sports Group out of Houston to be his contract agency and LRMR, the firm run by LeBron James' business partner Maverick Carter, to do his marketing, though it is unclear if he has signed with either firm.

The Minnesota Vikings, who could look to draft a quarterback in the early rounds, have the eighth overall pick. Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who spent 13 seasons with the Vikings, took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his excitement about Manziel.

Would love to see Johnny Manziel in a @Vikings uniform. This guy is the real deal. He will be a big time player on Sundays. #NFL @jmanziel2

— Fran Tarkenton (@Fran_Tarkenton) January 8, 2014

Heard @MelKiperESPN on @sportscenter comparing @jmanziel to me. I agree- #Manziel is a football savant. Can't teach what he does. #TAMU

— Fran Tarkenton (@Fran_Tarkenton) January 8, 2014