Johnny Manziel can suck the attention off of all his teammates, being that he’s the reigning Heisman Trophy winner who is now drawing eyes from NFL scouts pondering whether the Texas A&M quarterback will be available for next May’s draft.
Manziel’s 562 yards of total offense that he amassed in a losing effort against No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 14 is the top college performance of any player through the first five weeks of the season. With Manziel at quarterback, A&M has scored at least 42 points in every game and has achieved 500 yards or more of total offense every Saturday but the season opener.
Manziel’s coaches believe he has matured in his play as they allow him more freedom in changing the calls.
“I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about his maturity,” coach Kevin Sumlin said. “I don’t know what the difference is, statistically. I think he’s done a better job of seeing the field and not bailing right away. He’s used pretty good judgment in getting out of bounds and sliding. … He’s protecting the football and not being reckless. What you also see is his understanding of the offense and freedom to adjust the play. He’s got some parameters, but he’s been able to get us into some good plays.”
Texas A&M (4-1 overall, 1-1 in the SEC) is off this week. But, Manziel aside, here are the best five Aggies who don’t play quarterback:
Mike Evans: The split end was able to claim some attention against Alabama, the most-viewed regular season game on television in seven years. His 279 yards against the Tide remains the top performance in the nation by a wide receiver. Evans has topped 100 yards in three of his five games. However, when he caught a touchdown pass against Arkansas last Saturday, he injured his knee. Sumlin said Evans needed the bye week to help him heal.
Deshazor Everett: He’s the Aggies’ top defender, with starts at both corner and safety. Everett also has scored touchdowns in consecutive games via a fumble return (SMU) and interception (Arkansas). His 31 tackles are second best on the defense, even though he’s missed a full game because of two suspensions. He’s been moved to safety because of depth problems at that spot.
Malcome Kennedy: A&M, which said goodbye to Ryan Swopes last season, was in dire need of a receiver to keep defenses from draping Evans. Kennedy, the slot receiver, has caught 23 passes with four touchdowns. Both are second to Evans.
Jake Matthews: There are no real individual stats to show how well an offensive lineman plays. But Matthews, the offensive tackle who moved from the right to left side, is the anchor of a line that has allowed Manziel more than enough time to make throws. Matthews and company took over the Arkansas game in the second half, as the Aggies turned to a more vanilla rushing approach to control the line of scrimmage.
Tra Carson: The Oregon transfer looks like the prototype SEC tailback. Carson, a 235-pounder, started the season as the designated scorer. As the second back in the rotation after Ben Malena, Carson is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the unheralded Malena is averaging 89 yards of all-purpose yards each Saturday.
The team returns to action in a week, with a road game against Mississippi.