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January 18, 2013

Manziel eager for normalcy to return

It's been a whirlwind six weeks for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: on the banquet circuit, he won the Walter Camp Award, the Manning Award and something called the Heisman; he was named an AP 1st Team All-American, hung out with Megan Fox on the Tonight Show and did the Top 10 List on the Late Show with David Letterman.

And, in what little spare time he had, he engineered a 41-13 thrashing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl with one of the most amazing performances in college football bowl history.

Now that it's all over, Manziel is finally able to take a deep breath and get back to living a somewhat normal life as a college student.

"I'm very glad to be back. The last couple weeks have been hectic for me," he said Thursday night. "There was a time when I couldn't wait to get back to College Station, to get back to a regular life. For me, it was good to get back to school and some kind of normalcy with that."

Most regular lives, of course, don't include pictures of a 20-year-old ending up on TMZ. While some national media observers have suggested Manziel tone down his act, he said he didn't think he had done anything to merit negative attention since winning the Heisman Trophy.

"I don't feel like I'm doing anything extreme or anything different," he said. "I'm getting everything done in the classroom and football wise; I'm taking care of the things I need to in my life, first and foremost and having a good time with what free time that I do have in my life. Hopefully...I'm still a normal kid. I'm still in college. Hopefully I can enjoy my time here."

During his cross-country experiences, Manziel got to know Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, the Heisman runner-up and subject of numerous headlines over the past few days. Manziel said he was floored when allegations involving the existence of Te'o's alleged girlfriend broke Wednesday.

"I was with him Saturday and Sunday ... and talked to him just as normal. It was like any other day. It was just another normal day with him, and he's a great guy," Manziel said. "I was blown away. I saw a tweet and then to go look on the Internet and my roommate said, 'You're never going to believe what just came out.' Nobody could believe that. It was a total shock for the entire sports world and, being the sports fan that I am, I was just as shocked as everyone else."

Manziel said he saw a warning for himself in what was happening to Te'o.

"The Internet is a tricky, dangerous place. You see that time and time again," he said. "So, for me, it may mean hitting save on a draft on a tweet every now and again."

As for the 2013 season, Manziel said he doesn't think the Aggies will take anything for granted.

"It's whatever it is," he said when it was noted that A&M is already being mentioned as a potential preseason No. 1. "We were nothing coming into this year, we're something going into next year, we're going to treat it the same way and play like we have a chip on our shoulder regardless."

For the incumbent Heisman winner, the chip is already forming.

"I talked to (Strength & Conditioning) coach (Larry) Jackson the other day about how important this is," Manziel said. "A lot of people want to talk about being a top 10 team in the country, a lot of people want to talk about being one of the best teams in the country. For us, we need to do it. We need to live up to what we say we're going to do."


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