Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was a unanimous choice Monday for Associated Press Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year after a dynamic debut season in College Station.
The charismatic redshirt freshman known as “Johnny Football” passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushed for 1,181 yards and an SEC-leading 19 TDs, and guided the Aggies to a surprising 10-2 mark in their first SEC season, including an upset of No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones edged out South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney for the defensive player of the year award. Jones leads the conference with 22.5 tackles behind the line and ranks second to Clowney with 12.5 sacks.
Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin was named coach of the year, beating out Florida’s Will Muschamp.
Manziel also was an overwhelming choice as freshman of the year, in addition to being selected on all ballots as the first-team quarterback — not bad in a league that features the nation’s two highest-rated passers: Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.
“This season has been incredibly surreal,” Manziel said. “It’s beyond my wildest imagination. It’s a true testament to how this team has grown every week, because without these guys none of my individual success would be anything.”
He is also considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded in New York on Saturday. Manziel has put up bigger numbers than former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, a landslide pick for the Heisman in 2010.
No freshman has ever won college football’s highest individual honor.
Jones had two sacks, one stop behind the line and forced a fumble in last Saturday’s thrilling SEC championship game. Georgia had a shot to play for the national title, but they lost to Alabama 32-28. The Crimson Tide will face top-ranked Notre Dame for the BCS crown on Jan. 7.
Five other players were unanimous picks for the first team: South Carolina’s Clowney, cornerbacks Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State and Dee Milliner of Alabama, Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton, and Alabama center Barrett Jones.
Florida, which had a comeback season under Muschamp and earned a BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl, led all schools with six players on the first team. Tight end Jordan Reed and running back Mike Gillislee made it from the offense, tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam represented the defense, and the Gators landed both specialists off their superb special teams _ kicker Caleb Sturgis and punter Kyle Christy.
Alabama, which will be seeking its third national title in four years when it faces the Fighting Irish, had four first-teamers. Barrett Jones and Milliner were joined by offensive lineman Chance Warmack and linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Texas A&M also landed four players on the first team after jumping from the Big 12 to the SEC along with Missouri. Two of the linemen who protected Manziel so well, Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, were selected by the voters, as was defensive end Damontre Moore.
The rest of the first team included Georgia freshman running back Todd Gurley, receiver Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt, all-purpose threat Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee, offensive lineman Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson of Missouri and a pair of LSU defensive standouts, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid.