He might as well have been back in Kerrville, Texas, where he became a hill country star in high school.
His road to college stardom was anything but a clear path.
Manziel competed with two other quarterbacks to replace Ryan Tannehill as the starter this season, the Aggies’ first in the SEC and first under Sumlin.
Manziel came out of spring practice as the backup, but became the starter in August.
Still, nobody was hailing him is the next big thing. Did Sumlin think he had a Heisman winner on his hands?
‘‘No,’’ he said emphatically, adding, ‘‘Not this year.’’
Then Manziel started playing and the numbers started piling up.
He also had some struggles against Florida in the season opener and in a home loss to LSU. The question was: Could he do his thing against a top-notch opponent?
The answer came in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 10. Going into the matchup against the Crimson Tide, Manziel said he and his teammates heard a lot of doubters.
‘‘You can’t do this and you can’t do that,’’ he recalled Saturday at the podium
Manziel passed for 253 yards, ran for 92 and the Aggies beat the Tide 29-24. Klein had been the front-runner for most of the season, but Manziel surged after beating ‘Bama.
Still, Manziel was still something of a mystery man. Sumlin’s rules prohibit freshmen from being available to the media. Manziel was off-limits, but not exactly silent.
Manziel gave glimpses of himself on social media — including some memorable pictures of him dressed up as Scooby-Doo for Halloween with some scantily clad young women.
Before he became a celebrity, Manziel got himself into some serious trouble. In June, he was arrested in College Station after police said he was involved in a fight and produced a fake ID. He was charged with disorderly conduct and two other misdemeanors.
After the season, Texas A&M took the reins off Manziel and made him available for interviews, allowing him to tell his own tale.
Though in the end, his play said it all.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap