HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel told a room full of reporters Wednesday he didn’t initially realize the magnitude of attention he’d receive this offseason after becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
He does now after an offseason loaded with headlines ranging from his appearances at sporting events, Twitter posts and camp departures. But college football’s biggest star hopes everyone understands the past several months have been the result of a college kid trying to live his life.
“I wouldn’t say fair or unfair,” Manziel said of criticism. “I would say, at times blown a little out of proportion. But at the end of the day I hope people still see that I’m still a 20-year-old kid in college. … I’m just trying to live my life. Hopefully that doesn’t upset too many people. I’m continuing to learn as the days and the weeks go on.”
Manziel’s highly anticipated appearance at SEC Media Days came Wednesday morning with the SEC’s rock star answering a long list of questions in front of large crowds. The most pressing topic centered on his early departure from the prestigious Manning Passing Academy last week, which led to rumors and reports he was late for a camp session after a night of partying.
Manziel denied the partying part multiple times Wednesday, saying he simply overslept because his cell phone died. He also said his early departure was a mutual decision and hopes to go back to work as a camp counselor again next year.
Manziel also said he understands the intense notoriety has come because of his position, winning college football’s biggest prize in his first season on the field.
“It’s one of those things you don’t understand until you go through it and until you deal with it,” Manziel said of the attention. “ My situation is different because nobody has had three years of eligibility left. Nobody. …
“I knew the spotlight was bright. I knew all my actions were being watched. And then lately, it’s just been magnified. I’m OK with that. It just is what it is.”
Manziel also stressed none of his offseason experiences will have an impact on his performance his fall. The quarterback is key to Texas A&M’s championship hopes after leading the Aggies to a surprising 11-2 run in their first year in the SEC.
Manziel guaranteed he will be “150 percent ready to go” when practice begins.
“Football is football,” Manziel said. “My teammates know where my heart’s at and where my head’s at. My coaches do. My family does. That’s what really matters to me. All that is going to factor into how football season is going to go and how everything is going to go in my regard to that. I’m just ready to stop.
“No more talk after this. No more of that. Let’s play football.”