Put Johnny Manziel in front of Alabama's defense or in a third down at the Cotton Bowl, and he's absolutely calm. Maybe SEC defenses need to build pitching mounds on the field, because that seems to be the one situation that makes Manziel nervous.
Manziel, who shrugged off the pressure of being a freshman starting at quarterback for Texas A&M to produce one of the greatest college football seasons ever, admitted to nerves before he threw the ceremonial first pitch before the Rangers-Angels game on Sunday night. And it showed with the pitch.
Manziel's high-and-outside throw sent Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who caught the pitch, scrambling to snag it before it went all the way to the backstop. While Manziel was in no danger of going in first-pitch infamy like Mariah Carey or Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory, he probably owes Moreland one; the replay would have a lot more traction as a blooper if the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback had thrown one past the catcher.
Here's what he told AggieYell.com about his nerves:
"My heart was beating a little bit, but it was good," Manziel said.
Manziel admitted to being nervous and that he hasn't been that nervous since the Heisman night.
Manziel was getting advice from legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan.
"Don't bounce it," he said.
We don't blame Manziel. First pitches are a no-win situation. It's not like a perfect strike is going to be remembered. But a five-hopper toward the dugout will live on for years and years.
Manziel is used to throwing a baseball though. USA Today said Manziel played second base and shortstop in high school and even grew up wearing No. 2 because of Derek Jeter. He said he would have kept playing baseball if it wasn't for football. (USA Today also had a great detail, pointing out that Manziel had "an NCAA compliance officer with him to make sure that he did not accept any free items.")
Manziel's off-center first pitch is also a scary thought for future first-pitch throwers. If the best quarterback in college football can't throw one down the middle, what chance do you have?
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