COLLEGE STATION (AP) – Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin balked Wednesday when asked to reflect on Johnny Manziel’s career as he and the Aggies prepare for what could be the quarterback’s last college game.
The Aggies will face Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31. Manziel hasn’t revealed his plans for the future, but most believe the redshirt sophomore will declare for the NFL draft next month.
“I’m not going to reflect on that until it is his last game,” Sumlin said. “All I can tell you is what he’s done for the university up to this point (is) well-documented. His numbers speak for themselves. He is without a doubt the most exciting player in America.”
Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy last season and came in fifth in this year’s voting. He has been largely unavailable to the media this season and decided not to meet with reporters on Wednesday after initially telling school officials that he would.
Manziel will have a new play-caller in the bowl game with Sumlin announcing Wednesday that co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will take over sole duties as offensive coordinator and call plays in place of Clarence McKinney, who is also running backs coach.
Also on Wednesday, the Aggies said that secondary coach Marcel Yates is leaving A&M after the bowl game to become defensive coordinator at Boise State.
The Aggies were expected to contend for a national championship this season, but instead finished 8-4 and are coming off consecutive losses to LSU and Missouri. They’ll look to bounce back in their bowl game.
“If we can win this game, it’ll be the first time in the history of this program we’ve won three bowl games in a row,” Sumlin said. “That’s significant. There’s been a lot of football games played and a lot of guys come through this room who can’t say they’ve done that. That can be real special for our seniors and it can really propel us in the offseason.”
While Johnny Football is likely packing his bags and leaving College Station, the Aggies won’t have to worry about Sumlin going anywhere for a while.
Sumlin signed a six-year contract extension on Dec. 12 that runs through 2019 and will pay him $5 million a year. The sought-after coach must pay the school $5 million if he leaves before the end of the 2016 season, and the school has a buyout clause which runs the length of the contract.
Athletic director Eric Hyman raved about Sumlin and the job he’s done in two seasons at Texas A&M. Sumlin is 19-6 with the Aggies and in six seasons as a head coach at Houston and Texas A&M, Sumlin is 54-23.
“This is a long-term commitment to coach Sumlin and there’s no question about that,” Hyman said. “The people of Aggieland feel it’s worth their football coach. His focus is on the student-athlete and that resonates with a lot of people.”
Sumlin is looking forward to continuing to build his program at A&M.
“We’ve got a ways to go with what we’re doing, but what it says is people believe we’re on the right track,” Sumlin said.
Sumlin played in this game while he was at Purdue when it was called the Peach Bowl. The venue also hosts the Southeastern Conference Championship each season. He hopes that the visit there will help his team in the future.
“It’s (good) to have the chance to expand our brand east, for our fan base and our players to be somewhere we haven’t been, and a chance to be in Atlanta, which also hosts our conference championship and will move to the College Football Playoff series,” Sumlin said. “Hopefully we can gain some experience here and come back.”
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