Last spring, on a fairly nondescript morning in San Diego, the college football universe shifted in unforeseeable ways. An ambitious third-string quarterback from Texas A&M -- a kid with ordinary size and a quick smile -- had come to work with George Whitfield, a noted quarterback mentor who had trained the likes of NFL stars Cam Newton and Andrew Luck in recent years. All Johnny Manziel wanted was an opportunity to grow. With a new coaching staff in College Station and former Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill having become the eighth overall selection in the 2012 draft, Manziel sensed his chance to snatch his team's starting job.
Whitfield didn't know much about Manziel when he told the 19-year-old from Kerrville, Texas, to lace up his cleats and warm up. He learned plenty in the minutes that followed. As Whitfield walked away to set up a drill, Manziel grabbed the coach by the arm and said, "If you help me iron out my throwing motion, I'll take it from there." Whitfield nodded and quickly turned to get back to what he was doing. That's when Manziel tugged at the coach's arm again. "I don't think you understand," Manziel said intensely. "You teach me this and I'll go tear it up."
It wasn't merely the confidence Manziel displayed that morning that made Whitfield believe the teenager was unique. It was the certainty that blew Whitfield away. It wasn't enough that Manziel's mother had set up this tutorial to help her son improve his game in time for that year's spring practices at A&M. Manziel was seeing far beyond controlled scrimmages and an upcoming quarterback competition with two other underclassmen. He was anticipating his destiny and telling Whitfield that he'd better be ready to keep up.