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July 17, 2013
Johnny Manziel is not an easy man to faze.
When asked at SEC Media Days if he had a reaction to South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney's comment that he'd "come right at him" and hit him in the mouth, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner didn't back down.
"I'd come right at him," he replied. "(Clowney)'s a great player, but I'm not intimidated by him in any way, shape or form."
The idea of facing off with the SEC press corps days after being the subject of intense media criticism for his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy didn't seem to intimidate him either.
"I like talking to the media," he said. "I enjoy the give and take with you guys."
Manziel didn't shy away from questions about what happened last weekend in Louisiana, but insisted alcohol was not the cause of his early departure.
"I simply overslept. There's nothing more to it, and the rumors about other things simply weren't true," he said. "I just overslept and missed a meeting. I absolutely lived up to it. There was no excuse for not having my phone charged and not having an alarm set."
For a player who takes very few clean shots on the football field, Manziel has taken quite a few during the offseason. The negative commentary he's endured, he said, has been part of a maturing process.
"I'm learning every day," Manziel explained. "There are situations you learn to shy away from. I used to be a person that watched ESPN and Sportscenter all day, every day. I shy away from it now; articles and things on Twitter, I shy away from it."
When asked if his remarkable 2012 season and the fame that followed has changed him, Texas A&M's quarterback said he hasn't been changed by the spotlight.
"I'm still the same guy that I was when I got here...I've just done more on the field," he said. "I've made some mistakes and I've owned up to them ... I like to have fun. I like to live my life to the fullest. If that upsets some people, I'm sorry."
As the primary weapon on a team with national championship aspirations, Manziel knows a lot is riding on his performance in 2013. That is one challenge he believes he will be more than ready for.
"I've worked a lot to get better," he said. "I've worked with the new guys, and the biggest thing is making sure my teammates are prepared because we're the ones who will take it to the next level."
After finishing his circuit at Media Days, Manziel and head coach Kevin Sumlin headed to the airport. Destination: Los Angeles and the ESPY awards.
"Crazy's a good word for others," Manziel said of his whirlwind of an offseason. "For me, it's been fun."
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