The Doc Five: Best Heisman encore seasons -- No. 5 Johnny Manziel

Graham Watson
March 3, 2014

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



With Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston gearing up to defend his Heisman Trophy, it got us thinking about how few players have actually come back the season after winning the Heisman and how few have actually gone on to have good encore seasons.

Since the Heisman was first awarded in 1935, 23 underclassmen have won the award, though Reggie Bush’s 2005 win was vacated. In recent years, underclassmen have dominated the Heisman, winning each of the last seven seasons. However, only 12 players, including Winston, have returned for an encore performance.

Of course, Ohio State’s Archie Griffin is the only player to ever win the Heisman twice and since his would be considered the ultimate encore performance, he’s been left off this list. But there’s still a nice collection of players that did their best to follow in Griffin’s footsteps.

Manziel was the first freshman to ever win the award in 2012.

He dazzled the nation with his magician-like escapability and penchant for completing passes that no one should ever be able to complete. It often took three guys to bring him down and sometimes even that wasn’t enough. When he led Texas A&M to a 29-24 win over Alabama in 2012, he all but sealed up his Heisman.

But in 2013, things were more difficult. Teams were a little wiser to his game and the A&M defense often put the offense in positions where it had to score on nearly every possession. Manziel also had a tough offseason as he tried to deal with his newfound fame. He was under investigation for signing autographs for cash and was forced to serve a half-game suspension and issue an apology to his team. The scrutiny over his off-season antics, which was well documented on social media, and his on-field improvisation became a daily occurrence in all media platforms.

Despite all of that, Manziel was a more well-rounded player in 2013. His completion percentage went from 68 percent to 69.9 percent. He threw for 400 more yards than his Heisman year and 11 more touchdowns. However, he also threw four more interceptions and his rushing yards were cut in half as he tried to establish himself as a quarterback that could be patient, stay in the pocket and find his receivers.

More importantly, Manziel’s errors cost his team some big wins and the Aggies finished 9-4 after finishing 11-2 in Manziel’s Heisman year.

It’s probably fair to say that Manziel was in a position to at least challenge for his second straight Heisman up until the Aggies 34-10 loss to LSU in late November. It was really the first game in Manziel’s career where he looked average. A&M lost their next contest against Missouri to end the regular season.

Manziel finished fifth in the 2013 Heisman voting, the lowest of any of the players on this list, but many would argue he was a better overall player in 2013 than he was in 2012. He had a lot of things working against him, including his off-field reputation, which definitely hurt him with voters, but in terms of an encore performance, Manziel had one of the better ones.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!