Johnny Manziel was the most electric, unstoppable, holy-cow-did-he-really-just-do-that player in Texas A&M’s 117-year history. Nobody torched players and frustrated defensive coaches in the Southeastern Conference like Johnny Football.
The kid from Tyler, Texas, arrived on campus in College Station in 2011 and immediately redshirted. He then took the Aggies to new heights when he landed the starting quarterback role in 2012, won the Heisman Trophy and led TAMU to an 11-2 season that included wins over No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
Manziel gave Nick Saban and the Tide fits during his two seasons before heading to the NFL Draft. His Houdini scramble against Alabama in 2013 was unforgettable, but the year prior he wowed everyone by toppling a first-ranked, eventual national title-winning Alabama Crimson Tide team in 2012 behind some magical plays.
None were more awe-inspiring than the bobble touchdown in 2012.
Texas A&M-Alabama 2012
Manziel’s 2012 campaign wound up being legendary, but it got off to a rocky start under head coach Kevin Sumlin.
The Florida Gators spoiled his collegiate debut at Kyle Field in the team’s opener. Manziel rebounded by scoring at will in his following games. He broke an Archie Manning 43-year-old record when he totaled 557 yards of offense against Arkansas. He then torched Louisiana Tech for 576 yards two games later.
After a loss to LSU, their second and final loss of the season, Manziel went on an SEC rampage. Auburn and Mississippi State had no answer for the dual-threat passer. Then came the showdown of the college football season: No. 1 Alabama versus No. 15 Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Johnny Manziel Amazing TD Stuns No. 1 Alabama
The Texas A&M Aggies jumped out to 7-0 lead on running back Christine Michael’s one-yard touchdown from the goal line in the first quarter. TAMU had to keep their foot on the gas and score as much as possibly before Alabama’s offense woke up.
With about eight minutes left in the first quarter on 3rd-and-Goal, Manziel produced one of the more iconic plays in Texas A&M University history.
Manziel took the snap from center Patrick Lewis, ran into one of his linemen and bobbled the ball into the air before catching it and scrambling to his left. He then found wide receiver Ryan Swope wide open in the end zone for the touchdown.
That Johnny Football was able to maintain his poise during all of the play was amazing. Then capping it off with a touchdown pass made it magical.
“You have to have a tremendous amount of discipline to play against a guy like that,” Saban told USA Today after the game. “There were times when we didn’t quite get it done the way we’d like to.”
Texas A&M led 20-0 by the end of the first quarter. A.J. McCarron, Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and the Crimson Tide battled back throughout the second and third quarters, but a fourth-quarter Manziel touchdown to Malcome Kennedy gave the Aggies a 29-24 win to upset the No. 1 team in the country.
Manziel finished that game with 345 total yards. He capped his Heisman season with 3,706 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions. He rushed for another 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards.
Alabama went on to win the BCS National Championship against Notre Dame. But never forget that ‘Bama fans received tickets to the Johnny Manziel Show, and this was the play that put him on the map and in Heisman Trophy conversations.