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Before he took a snap in a college game, Johnny Manziel was already known by the Texas A&M fans as "Johnny Football."
Thanks to a record-setting season, he may soon be known as "Johnny Heisman."
The Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback has carved apart SEC defenses all season in leading the Aggies (No. 9 BCS, No. 10 AP) to 10 wins in their first season in the SEC, but he did something Monday that he hasn't done all season -- speak to the media.
Manziel participated in an hourlong teleconference and admitted that he never would have dreamed that he would have had this much success this soon.
"This season has been incredibly surreal and beyond my wildest imagination," said Manziel, who's accounted for 43 touchdowns and broke Cam Newton's SEC record for total offense in a season with 4,600 yards.
"But it's a true testament to how this team has grown each and every week, because without those guys, my individual success wouldn't mean anything."
Manziel had previously not done any interviews this season because of Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's policy of prohibiting freshmen from talking to the media.
In a lot of ways, the fact that Manziel hadn't talked this season only added to his growing legend, although he's done plenty of talking with his play. Several polls have him as the front-runner to become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
"It's something you dream about, sitting there creating all these video games when you're a kid and putting up crazy numbers," Manziel said. "It's something you can only sit back and dream about. It's the biggest award in college football."
It's something you dream about, sitting there creating all these video games when you're a kid and putting up crazy numbers. It's something you can only sit back and dream about. It's the biggest award in college football.” -- Johnny Manziel on potential
While honored to be in the Heisman conversation, Manziel said it wasn't up to him to handicap his chances. That said, his father, Paul, has developed a relationship with John David Crow, the only Heisman winner in Texas A&M history.
"My dad goes down and talks to him every game a little bit," Manziel said. "I haven't gotten a chance to talk to him that much. But if I am fortunate enough to win the Heisman Trophy, bringing it back to Aggieland would be an incredible honor and something I would never forget."
Manziel's rock-star status around the Texas A&M campus has changed his life, although he doesn't see himself as a celebrity.
"I'm a small-town kid from Kerrville, Texas," said Manziel, who still gets a kick out of kids coming up to him and wanting his autograph.
It's not just kids, either. Friends of friends are asking him to sign things. His parents also get their share of requests, and he's frequently stopped on campus by other students wanting to take pictures.
"It's a great group of people here at Texas A&M, and everybody you run into is incredibly polite," Manziel said.
Repeatedly, Manziel praised his offensive line -- which he called one of the best in college football -- as well as the rest of his teammates. He said that he and his teammates kept a list of things back in the preseason that the Aggies supposedly wouldn't be able to do in their first season in the SEC.
In particular, there were skeptics about whether Sumlin's up-tempo spread offense would be able to cut it against SEC defenses, and nobody envisioned Manziel being able to improvise the way he has and put up the kind of numbers he has in the SEC.
"I never really intend to go out and run around and freelance. It's an instinct that just takes over," Manziel said. "I'd love to take a three-step drop, get the ball out and not have to worry about running around in circles. In the preseason here, we heard all the things we couldn't do and had a list of things we couldn't do. It's something I heard and something the team heard."