Johnny Football ready for NFL
INDIANAPOLIS -- Johnny Football, the Heisman winner from Texas A&M, arrived at the NFL scouting combine this week ready to show the league's decision-makers that he's also Johnny Manziel, future leader and franchise quarterback in waiting.
Manziel measured in Friday morning at 5-foot-11¾, shorter than typical NFL talent evaluators like quarterbacks to be, and 207 pounds. In front of a large media gathering, he made it clear what his message will be to teams who have questions for him.
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"I play with a lot of heart, I play with a lot of passion, I feel like I play like I'm 10 feet tall," Manziel said. "Those measurements to me are just a number."
Manziel is slated to meet with several teams Saturday, including the Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 selection in the May draft.
Quarterbacks arrived at the combine Thursday and received preliminary medical exams. They were weighed and measured Friday and given more stringent medical exams, and they're scheduled to work out at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Manziel said on Friday that he will do everything in the workout except throw.
He is slated to throw March 27 at A&M to a group of receivers that will include wideout Mike Evans, another potential first-round selection.
On Friday, Manziel acknowledged his reputation as an immature player who wrestled with the immense celebrity status that comes with winning the Heisman Trophy and promised to live and work the right way for whoever selects him.
"This is a job," Manziel said. "There's guys with families, coaches with families, with all kinds of things on the line. For me, it's nothing new. It won't be a hard thing to kick. I'm just going to focus on whatever organization I'll be at, just pouring my heart out trying to be football 24-7 with that team."
I play with a lot of heart, I play with a lot of passion, I feel like I play like I'm 10 feet tall. Those measurements to me are just a number.” -- Johnny Manziel, at
the scouting combine
He also pledged to answer questions about both his style on the field and behavior off it.
In June, Manziel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that stemmed from a June 2012 arrest for disorderly conduct, failure to identify and possession of a fictitious driver's license after an incident in a bar near the A&M campus. He paid a $2,000 fine, $230 in court costs and was given credit for the short jail time he spent immediately following the incident.
Still, Manziel has continuously been photographed in situations that would be less than ideal even for an NFL quarterback. And his decision to take only online classes in the spring of 2013 made headlines.
Manziel spent the past six weeks in San Diego, working with noted quarterbacks coach George Whitfield on traditional dropbacks and pocket skills, abilities that NFL teams will want to see.
"Just come in here, be honest with these teams, get a chance to sit down with them, learn some of these guys and really get to see Saturday," Manziel said. "It is what it is, I'm able to handle it. It's not something that gets to me that much."
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He also took the opportunity Friday to refute reports that he'd attended counseling for alcohol abuse and anger management.
"No sir, I don't believe those are true," Manziel said. "After last spring, Coach [Kevin] Sumlin kind of came to me and said, 'Hey, we have an in-house guy we want you to sit down and meet with.' I was more than happy and willing to learn whatever I could from him. I could sit down and have meetings with him, and those continued throughout the next couple years. Had a great relationship with him."
Manziel set a Southeastern Conference record as a freshman with 5,116 yards of total offense, the 10th-best season in NCAA history at the time. As a sophomore, he threw for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns to go with 759 yards and nine touchdowns rushing.
A man in demand these days, Manziel says he's turned to three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady for advice during the pre-draft process.
"For him to reach back out to me after I sent a text message to him was extremely cool," Manziel said of their communication. "[It was] kind of a really funny conversation at first, [then we] worked our way into a more serious conversation."
ESPNBoston.com reporter Field Yates contributed to this report.
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