Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who has become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, is aware that he may yet fail to make the transition to a successful career in college football and, potentially, the NFL.
"This should motivate you to work even harder," Manziel said before collecting the Heisman Trophy, which he won by a clear margin over the Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o. "There's always a chance you can fail. If you work hard enough and you put in the time and effort, that's not going to happen. If you continue to strive to try to be the best football player in the entire world, which I want to be, I think good things will happen."
Manziel won the Heisman for his efforts in the Aggies' first season in the Southeastern Conference, in which they compiled a 10-2 record for a No9 BCS rating and a place in the Cotton Bowl, in which they will face Oklahoma in January.
After accepting his award, he said: "You dream about being in New York and hoisting the Heisman Trophy. But for it to become a reality and me to even be here, it's crazy."
Manziel, who has just turned 20, majors in business and glories under the nickname "Johnny Football" – which his family is reported to be attempting to trademark. In June, he was arrested and jailed after a fight outside a bar, having presented a fake driver's licence to police.
The only freshman to have come close to winning the Heisman Trophy before Manziel was Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, who finished second to the USC quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004. Peterson, a running back, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 after foregoing his senior year in college. He now holds a number of NFL rushing records. Leinart, however, has not had a stellar NFL career. He has played for the Arizona Cardinals, the Houston Texans and now the Oakland Raiders, where he is back-up to another USC Heisman winner, Carson Palmer, who won the award in 2002.
Recent winners of the Heisman Trophy include four quarterbacks who have played notable roles in the 2012 NFL season: Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III (2011), Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (2010), Sam Bradford of the St Louis Rams (2008) and the New York Jets' Tim Tebow (2007).
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