HOUSTON-- Johnny Manziel is ready to distance himself from the Johnny Football persona that made him a national celebrity as a freshman at Texas A&M whatever it takes for him to get closer to being the Houston Texans first overall selection at the 2014 NFL Draft.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner shared his desire to stay in-state with a Houston newspaper:
I want [the Texans] to say absolutely, without a doubt, with 100 percent certainty, that I m who they want, Manziel said. I want everybody from the janitor at Reliant Stadium to the front office executive assistant all the way up to (owner) Bob McNair to say, This kid is 100 percent, can t miss. This is who we want being the face of our program. We want the Texas kid staying in Texas and leading the Texans.
Manziel s on-field exploits are undeniable. His athleticism and improvisational skills are simply breathtaking at times. His footwork is questionable at best and his size is not ideal, but over the last few seasons, we ve seen this type of quarterback succeed on the next level.
It s the highly publicized off-field exploits that will draw Manziel the most skepticism. But the 21-year-old says he s ready to put that behavior, for which he takes full responsibility, in the past:
I was a kid who made some goofball decisions, he says. That s been part of my journey. Maybe it s part of the whole Johnny Football deal that I m trying to get away from. I m trying to show people I ve grown up, and I ve learned from my experiences. I feel like you re a stupid person if you continue to make the same wrong decisions.
I don t want to hear, Oh, anybody in his situation would have been doing the same thing. I m 100 percent responsible for my actions.
Being the Texans pick, Manziel said, would add to an already charmed life.
They re a team I ve watched every year since I was a kid, he says. I want to be the No. 1 pick. It s something I ve dreamed about. With the pieces they already have in place, I could fit in...I m a Texas kid. The state means a lot to me.
But if Houston decides to pass up on the former Aggie and let him fall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it could end up haunting the organization for years to come, he said.
It would be the worst decision they ve ever made, he says, smiling. I d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito.
Manziel put the ball squarely in the Texans court. With the fans seemingly behind the hometown kid, Houston may have no choice but to make Manziel their pick. But as they proved back in 2006 when they passed on Reggie Bush for Mario Williams, the Texans aren t afraid to take the unpopular route.