Kerrville (Texas) Tivy quarterback Johnny Manziel showed he was more than a capable playmaker as a sophomore for the Antlers.
In 2008 Tivy finished 12-3 and Manziel finished second on the team in rushing and passing yardage and third on the team in receiving yardage and scoring. He also proved to be an effective kick returner averaging over 16 yards a return.
As a junior Manziel assumed took over as Tivy's quarterback and in the first three games saw the Antlers fall to 0-3. However, they were able to pull together and losing streaks became a thing of the past.
"We knew it the whole year like starting in the scrimmages if we could go out and bring it all together we felt like we were just missing every game on a few areas," Manziel said. "We would win games but we still hit a few weak spots and we knew if we could bring it all together we would really be a good team.
"Finally in the last game of the year against Clemens we started just clicking. Everything started going and everybody picked up their game and the receivers were the main part. We had some young kids that really stepped up and that's what really helped the most."
After rough start the Antlers rallied to a 5-2 record in 27-4A and were a state semi-finalist with a 9-5 overall record.
The season saw several ups and downs and for Manziel a few lessons were learned.
"I learned a ton actually," he said. "The trust in the team was the big thing for me. I had to lean on other people rather than try to do it all myself which I was kind of struggling with. Midway through the year I felt I had to go out and do it all myself. Finally towards the end of the year when everybody started coming together I leaned on my teammates a little bit and let them do a little bit of the work. That's what really helped more than anything."
In relying more on his teammates, Manziel was able to put together quite the season. He threw for 2,782 yards and rushed for 1,529 yards to take home 27-4A co-offensive MVP and Area Offensive Player of the Year honors.
The 6-0, 185-pound quarterback was already hearing from a few college coaches and the interest began to increase over the course of the season. Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Nebraska, and Oregon, and Oklahoma St. are the main ones he hears from and has started to build bonds with a few college coaches.
"I talk to coach Fuente at TCU the quarterback coach. I talk to him on a pretty regular basis and coach Rossley at A&M," Manziel said. "I haven't had a chance to meet coach Akina. I was supposed to meet him this summer but that didn't really work out. Hopefully a little later I'll get to talk to him. Those are the main coaches right there. And then coach Brewer from Oklahoma St."
Football recruiting is not the only thing picking up right now though, in fact it has been baseball recruiting that has been going well for Manziel, who plays shortstop and second base on the diamond.
"That's the thing that's really starting to pick up more than anything else," Manziel said. "I wasn't really expecting to, but I've been getting some letters from even some pro teams like the Red Sox. Then A&M and Texas I've definitely been getting a lot of letters and talking to them a lot."
Manziel has always loved baseball, but football also has a special place in his heart and he has an idea about which one he would choose if he had to do so.
"Me and my parents have been talking about what I want to do and what would be best for me, like graduating early, I'm kind of working on that right now, and if I want to play football or baseball or maybe even try both," he said. "Baseball has been my love since I was a little kid, but now football has kind of taken over and I think I want that a little bit more. So I think I first want to play football but baseball is definitely still in the mix."
Not only does he have the question of which sport, but as a versatile athlete on the football field he has the ability to lineup at a few positions. He has worked at quarterback and receiver over the last two seasons and college recruiters have talked to him about his options.
"Some quarterback and receiver but mostly quarterback right now," Manziel said on where colleges have shown interest in placing his talents. "I've gotten so much better as a passer over the summer and throughout the season and that's something I really improved on. I knew I had the speed to run, but I really needed to improve my arm strength and accuracy and that's what I really worked on throughout most of the year. Some schools are looking at me at quarterback."
And while it's early he does have a few favorites at the top of his list.
"Probably my top five schools right now are Texas, TCU, Oregon, Oklahoma St., and then Nebraska," Manziel said. "Those are probably my top schools. Even though it's really early those are the one's that stand out the most."
This fall he was able to four or five Texas games, a couple of TCU and Texas A&M games, and an SMU game. He plans to get out and see a few more college campuses soon as well as attend few college camps this summer. He is also planning to attend a few combines. In the middle of all of that he is gearing up for Tivy's baseball season.