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Johnny Manziel Wins the Heisman

Charles E.Sutton | 12/10/2012, 9:26 a.m.

Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to capture the Heisman Trophy, taking college football's most coveted individual prize Saturday night after a record-breaking first season.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finished second and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein came in third. This year's Heisman race had two atypical candidates. Manziel broke through the class barrier and prevented Te'o from becoming the first purely defensive player to grab the award.

Manziel received 474 first-place votes and 2,029 points from the panel of former winners and media members. He seemed very calm after his name was called, unlike the player who scampers around the field on Saturdays. He simply stood up and bowed his head, and later gave the trophy a kiss.

Te'o captured 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points and Klein had 60 firsts and 894 points.

After turning 20 just a few days ago, Manziel proved that times have changed in college football, and that experience is no longer required to win the Heisman.

For years, college football's senior class dominated the award named after John Heisman, the trailblazing Georgia Tech coach from the early 1900's. In the 1980's juniors began to win the award. In 2007, Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win it, and two more won it in the next two seasons.

Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson got as close as any freshman had come, finishing second to Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004. However, it took 78 years for a freshman to take home the big bronze trophy.

Peterson was a true freshman. Manziel was a redshirt freshman, who attended school and practiced with the team last year, but did not play.

He's only the second player from Texas A & M to win the Heisman, joining John David Crow from 1957, and accomplished the feat without any preseason hype. Manziel wasn't even named the starter until two weeks prior to the season.

With elusive improvisation and daring runs, Manziel broke 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton's Southeastern Conference record with 4,600 total yards, directed the Aggies to a 10-2 record in their first season in the SEC and led his team to an upset at then-No. 1 Alabama in November that labeled him legitimate.

At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Manziel has become a master of utilizing his speed and shiftiness to turn seemingly doomed plays into touchdowns.