Plenty of people resent Johnny Manziel for many reasons, chief among them should be those at the University of Alabama. Instead, Nick Saban and his players had nothing but compliments to shower on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
“I haven’t seen him get rattled. I really haven’t,” Saban said to Dan Wolken of USA Today. “Regardless of any other circumstance that goes on around him, when he’s playing on the field, he’s doing everything he can to help his team win and he is a fierce competitor.”
Alabama lost just one game on their way to a second consecutive national championship in 2012, and Manziel was the culprit behind the Aggies’ 29-24 upset win. Manziel, who accounted for two touchdowns and 345 of the Aggies’ 418 total yards on the day, almost single-handedly caused the Crimson Tide to drop to fourth in the BCS rankings and nearly out of the title game even.
Alabama players claim they didn’t know what to expect from Manziel when the Aggies visited last season, but the defense is ready for him this time around.
“We just weren’t used to a player like Johnny Manziel,” safety Vinnie Sunseri said. “We know what he’s capable of doing now.”
Since that impressive win in Tuscaloosa, Ala., things have been pretty busy for Manziel. He’s won the Heisman, led the Aggies to a Cotton Bowl win against Oklahoma, enjoyed the “summer of Johnny” and avoided serious punishment from the memorabilia scandal. His star has risen so high that CBS is even devoting a “Johnny cam” to keep tabs on Manziel during Saturday’s game in College Station, Texas.
While the Alabama players may hold some sense of resentment toward Manziel, it seems that they’ve got nothing but love for him.
“He deserves the hype he’s gotten because of what he’s done and how he’s played,” safety HaHa Clinton-Dix said. “It doesn’t bother me at all. He’s one of a kind, if you ask me.”
All compliments and niceties aside, there is likely to be some tension between Manziel and the Alabama defense when they take the field on Saturday, as each continues their quest for a perfect season. But, for the time being, they’re saying all the right things.