Quarterback Johnny Manziel, the frenetic playmaker who led Texas A&M; to an upset of then-No. 1 Alabama, became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Kerrville, Texas, was honored with the coveted award Saturday night at the Best Buy Theater in New York. The only other Texas A&M; player to win the Heisman Trophy was running back John David Crow in 1957.
Previously, the closest a freshman came to winning the award was Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson in 2004, when he finished second by USC quarterback Matt Leinart.
“This is a moment that I’ve dreamed about since I’ve been a kid, running around the backyard pretending I was Doug Flutie throwing Hail Marys to my dad,” Manziel said. “I’m so blessed to be on a stage with such a group of great guys. To be invited into this fraternity, what a pleasure it really is.”
Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o was second in the voting and Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein was third, followed by USC receiver Marqise Lee and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
Manziel, 20, was selected the O’Brien Award winner Thursday as the nation’s best quarterback. He finished second to Te’o for the Maxwell Award, which goes to most outstanding player.
Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, and completed 68.3% of his passes. He led the Aggies to a 29-24 upset of the Crimson Tide, who are now ranked No. 2 and will play unbeaten Notre Dame in the Bowl Championship Series national title game on Jan. 7 in South Florida.
The redshirt freshman set a Southeastern Conference single-game record for total offense with 557 yards in a 58-10 victory over Arkansas and broke it two weeks later with 576 yards in a 59-57 victory over Louisiana Tech.
“I wish my whole team could be up here with me,” Manziel said during his acceptance speech.
He becomes the sixth consecutive underclassman to win the Heisman, following junior quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton the last two years, plus sophomores Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Te’o leads the top-ranked Irish with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.
Klein, who had 2,490 yards passing and 890 yards rushing, was the mid-season front-runner for the Heisman, but he played his worst game late in the season in a 52-24 loss at Baylor, which intercepted three passes and held him to 37 yards in 17 carries.