Where do I think Johnny Manziel ranks in the annals of quarterbacks I've been around?
I had the pleasure at Alabama of playing with Joe Namath, Steve Sloan and Kenny Stabler. I then was able to coach some outstanding quarterbacks -- Jack Thompson, "The Throwin' Samoan" at Washington State; Matt Cavanaugh, Ricky Tracano and Danny Marino at Pitt; and Gary Kubiak, Kevin Murray and Bucky Richardson at Texas A&M.
Johnny has more overall talent to be the most electrifying player. I would call him a modern day Fran Tarkenton, the nine-time Pro Bowler with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants.
To play at the next level a quarterback needs four things -- football intelligence, velocity on his throws, the ability to throw a catchable ball and being able to keep plays alive.
Johnny certainly has football intelligence, and he's got the velocity. Stabler once told me at a banquet if you cannot through the ball 35 yards in this room without hitting the ceiling you cannot play quarterback in the NFL. So many great college quarterbacks could not make it in pro ball because they did not have the necessary velocity.
You also have to throw a catchable ball in tight spots. We've often seen Johnny throw the ball into small windows, and that window will be even smaller at the next level.
Johnny certainly can keep plays alive with his feet. Marino was not fast nor could he scramble, but he had quick feet and was able to move in the pocket to avoid the pass rush. Johnny is elusive.
Johnny's has six key assets:
1. Intelligence and football intelligence -- some players are very intelligent but have little football intelligence, he's got both.
2. Unbelievable competitiveness.
3. Hand size to control the ball, which is a big deal to pro scouts.
4. Quick feet.
5. Awareness of rushers.
6. Hand-eye coordination.
As for possible liabilities, size, style, taking snaps under center and durability come to mind.
Johnny is listed at 6-foot-1. That's small, but there's been several NFL quarterbacks at his size or smaller, including 6-foot Drew Brees, who is a true pro-style drop-back passer. And despite his size, Johnny didn't miss a game in the country's best conference, battling through minor injuries. He has plenty of mental and physical toughness.
Taking snaps under center won't be a problem with Johnny because of his hand-eye coordination.
The future is unknown, but he will be forever remembered as A&M's best player, the university's most revered player. He created enough excitement among the former students to influence them to donate the money for the $450 million, 102,500-seat stadium -- the house that Johnny built.
Whatever he does at the next level will never change his legacy at A&M. He always will be the best and most exciting player to play on Kyle Field. Staying for another year would have been great for us to watch his magic, but for Johnny in his mind it was time to go to the NFL. And when that happens it is time to go.
Just be happy for him and be glad we as Aggies got to be part of Johnny Manziel and his magic for two years.
• Jackie Sherrill coached at Texas A&M from 1982-88, going 52-28-1 and winning three Southwest Conference championships. He also coached at Washington State, Pittsburgh and Mississippi State, going 180-120-4 overall in 25 seasons. Sherrill played at Alabama from 1962-65 under Paul "Bear"Bryant, helping the Crimson Tide win two national championships.