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Sumlin: Manziel will talk again someday

For now, A&M coach thinks quarterback should focus on football.

By Suzanne Halliburton - American-Statesman Staff

A dejected Aaron Murray talked in detail about how his Georgia team dropped a heartbreaker to Clemson. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney shook off questions as adeptly as he sheds blockers when the Gamecock defensive end was asked whether he was a bit out of shape for his team’s season opener.

Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller was available to talk about No. 2 Ohio State’s performance against Buffalo. So was Alabama’s AJ McCarron, who didn’t have a very good outing statistically, although his top-ranked Crimson Tide won handily against Virginia Tech.

Marcus Mariota played a part in three Oregon touchdowns, then discussed the play of the third-ranked Ducks. Florida State’s redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, who already has been nicknamed “Famous Jameis,” chatted away about his spectacular debut Monday night in a victory over Pittsburgh.

All the country’s major stars — all candidates right now for the Heisman Trophy — have spoken at some point in August during preseason camp or after their season-opening games, save for one. That would be Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman winner.

Manziel, again, wasn’t made available to the media Tuesday, when his team’s head coach, its coordinators and four teammates gave interviews regarding Saturday’s game against Sam Houston State. Looming on the horizon is top-ranked Alabama, which will come to College Station on Sept. 14 to take on the seventh-ranked Aggies.

Although Manziel wasn’t in the building, his name dominated the conversation. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin was asked about Manziel’s play last Saturday against Rice, his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, his late-game benching and the overwhelming criticism the sophomore quarterback has received for his antics against the Owls.

Sumlin said Manziel will speak this season; he just didn’t say when.

“I feel like now is not the time,” Sumlin said. “Will there be a time? Sure, there will be.

“It’s important now, based on where he is, that his focus is to be our quarterback and a student-athlete,” Sumlin said. “That’s his biggest challenge right now,” not to be at a news conference.

The last time Manziel spoke to reporters was in July. Matt Joeckel, who started against the Owls as Manziel served a half-game suspension mandated by the school and the NCAA, was one of four Aggie players to talk Tuesday and preview what is likely to be A&M’s easiest game of the season. A year ago, Manziel didn’t participate in news conferences until two weeks before the Heisman ceremony.

Sumlin did defend Manziel from some criticism the quarterback received after A&M’s 52-31 victory. Television cameras caught an apparent exchange between the coach and Manziel after the quarterback was penalized for a personal foul. Sumlin said Manziel didn’t ignore him. Rather, Sumlin said he used some strong language that didn’t require a response.

Sumlin said he spoke to Manziel on Monday about how to better channel his emotions on the field.

“Anyone who watches Johnny knows he plays with a lot of passion and emotion,” Sumlin said. “It’s my job to keep that passion and energy going and keeping it positive.”

Sumlin then added: “Has he kind of painted himself in a box with that, with some other issues? Probably. But at a certain point, his actions on the field are going to have to show where he is.”

Twins reunited

Joeckel found out Friday he would be starting for the Aggies. He didn’t think his twin brother, Luke, the former A&M star offensive tackle who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, would be able to see him play. But Luke surprised Matt on Friday night at the team hotel and was on the sideline for the game.

A running back returns

Tailback Brandon Williams should be available to play against Sam Houston after being limited following offseason foot surgery, but Sumlin wouldn’t provide many details about other injured players. Tailback Trey Williams, receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and defensive end Julien Obioha all left the Rice game because of injuries. Sumlin said they were all “day-to-day.”

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