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2014 NFL Combine: Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel says 'I play like I’m 10-feet tall'

By Nate Ulrich Published: February 21, 2014

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel addressed the media today during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Below is a transcript from the news conference featuring Manziel, a candidate to be drafted fourth overall by the Browns.

Q: What’s it been like spending time with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?

A: "It was cool. For him to reach back out to me after I extended a text message to him it was extremely cool. Kind of a funny conversation at first, worked our way into a more serious conversation, but it was really nice. I’m very thankful for him to extend a hand out to me in the situation I’m in."

Q: Comment on your measurements?

A: "No sir. I play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of passion. I feel like I play like I’m 10-feet tall. A measurement to me is just a number."

Q: How have you grown on and off the field?

A: "I think you look at on the field stuff, from freshman year until what I was this year, I tried to really hone in on some things this year, get better in the pocket and continue to develop as a passer. Off the field, some scrutiny off the field, but continuing to learn, continuing to learn from my mistakes and continuing to grow up. I have an opportunity now moving into a professional phase. This is life now, this is a job for me, taking it very seriously and I’m really excited about the future."

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about your game?

A: "I’m looking forward to shoring up all the people that are saying that I’m just an improviser. Feel like I worked extremely hard this year to all-around hone in on my game, so continuing to do that, working out in San Diego, continuing to do that and getting better as a pocket passer and as a quarterback in general."

Q: Is anything Brady told you about this?

A: "The big thing is to enjoy the process. Kind of gave me a little joke about teaching him to run like I can he’ll do anything in the world for me. It was pretty funny."

Q:  Want to show people difference between Johnny Football and Johnny Manziel. Who is Johnny Manziel?

A: "Johnny Manziel is a guy, I’m from a small town of Kerrville, Texas, 20,000 people. Get lost in kind of the people who make me out to be a big Hollywood guy, really just still a small-town kid. Sometimes you get caught up in certain things, but at the same time continuing to learn and continuing to adapt to everything that’s going on in my life."

Q: What would be the significance of being the first quarterback chosen?

A: It would be awesome. When you put in a ton of hard work, it’s a huge testament to how coaches and teammates all the way from when I first started playing this game. It’s been a long process, not just a short road to get here. Now just hone in on some things and at the same time enjoy the process. Whatever happens is really meant to be, it’s out of my control. Just come in here, be honest with these teams, get a chance to sit down and know some of these guys and really get to see a side of me.

Q:  Off the field scrutiny, has that been fair, accurate?

A: I think it is what it is. I’m able to handle it and able to really adapt to it. It’s not something that gets to me all that much, trying to now being in San Diego, tried to really hone in and focus on what I need to be doing to get ready for the combine, get ready for pro day and really from there moving on to being a professional and trying to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Q: What if the Texans take you?

A: I think it would be extremely cool. I’m a Texas guy, born and raised in Texas. I’ve never really left the state. For them to have the first pick means a lot to me.

Q: How would you handle playing in cold weather if the Browns draft you?

A: Yeah. Any circumstances, any situation that’s thrown my way, that’s part of being a quarterback. You have to handle what’s thrown your way, whether it’s cold weather, rain, you look at some of these games this year, Jacksonville, Arizona, whoever these warm teams are, these teams still play in the cold. It’s football, it’s a man’s game and it’s played in the snow, it’s played in the wet weather, it’s played in tough environments.

Q: Pete Carroll said what makes Russell Wilson special is competitiveness. What do you think makes you special?

A: I’m probably one of the most competitive people on the face of this earth, whether it’s sitting here playing tic-tac-toe or rock, paper, scissors or whatever it may be, I want to win. It’s something that really dating back all the way to being a kid, I don’t like the taste of losing, leaves a really sour taste in my mouth. I’m an extremely competitive person, at the same time I want to be a great leader as well.

Q: Know Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles?

A: Got a chance to know Teddy Bridgewater over the past, Elite 11 last year, came out to San Diego for a couple days. I really enjoy being around him. Me and him have a fun-natured relationship. I think he’s a heckuva player, I really enjoyed watching his games this year. And Blake, a guy I’ve gotten to know within the past few days, got to see a couple of his games this year. I think he’s an extremely talented kid and look forward to spending more time with him.

Q: You said you were eager to show you’re more than an improvisationalist. What’s your approach to doing that? Pocket passer?

A:  Absolutely. There’s times where plays aren’t going to go as scripted as people draw them up on the white board. Whenever that does happen and you go through your reads and you do certain things, there’s going to be times where you need to take off and get outside the pocket and extend plays. But at the same time I want to be a guy who can drop back and go through my progressions, go through my reads and really take what’s given to me by the defense.

Q: What’s the biggest question mark about you?

A: I’m not sure. I’m not sure really what the biggest question mark is. Just being able to hone in on everything from pocket awareness to getting through progressions, keeping my eyes downfield and being really accurate with the football are all things you need to do to be successful.

Q: Was there a moment where you knew you were ready for the NFL?

A: I don’t know if there was a certain moment. I felt throughout the year I progressed at a level, that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to get better and continue each year, each off-season to improve my game and try to take it to another level. Throughout the season when I sat down with the people around me who were closest in my life, whether it was coach Sumlin or coach Whitfield or Kingsbury or coach Fab or the really close people in my life, we made the decision it was right for me to move on.

Q: How does Mike Evans help a quarterback?

A: Mike Evans really one of the most physical, one of the best receivers I’ve seen play college football. The guy’s 6-5 and go up and get any ball you throw his way. On top of that, he’s an extremely hard worker and a guy that I would really, really do anything for.

Q:  How important is it for you to go through this process?

A: I think it’s really important for me to meet some of these coaches that I’m really looking forward to meeting, seeing how their offense is, getting to show them what I’ve learned through the past six weeks of being in San Diego and really see how much different things were. The main thing is them getting a chance to see me and get a chance to see how I am as a person and characteristics of me.

Q:  Your leadership?

A: You can ask my teammates, you can go back and ask anybody that when we needed to make a play those guys would want the ball in my hands. A good example is the Duke game. Wasn’t really looking as great as we wanted it to in the first half, but between me, Mike, some of these seniors we had to get the troops rallied and continuing to say ‘No matter how deep, how dark it looked on the scoreboard, keep plugging away, that the ball would eventually bounce our way.’ Sure enough we kept fighting and the defense made some big plays at the end to pull out a victory. I think the guys on my team know I’ll do anything and everything for them til there’s no time left on the clock, on or off the field, whatever it may be.

Q: LSU game, they kept you in the pocket and it wasn’t one of your better games? 

A: It was a game that I felt like just a little off in all aspects. Whether it was coming off a bye week, whatever it was, really no excuses. There was a fade route I remember down the sideline, Mike Evans gets off great press coverage and a ball I hit Mike on nine times out of 10, 10 times out of 10, just overthrew him about 3 yards. It was something that was really just an uncharacteristic day, something that just had an off day, they had a great scheme and played really well defensively, but felt like we still should have performed better on that stage.

Q: Look at success of mobile QBs like Kapernick and Wilson, what does that do for your confidence?

A: For those guys being able to evade a first wave of pass rush really extend the play just a little bit, be able to move the pocket and do some things like that, it really opens the playbook up a little bit more. At the same times there’s guys who are sitting back in the pocket and doing everything from there who are still some of the greatest in the game. The young guys who are doing that, the guys that I enjoy watching, I think they’re really doing a good job for some of the mobile quarterbacks in college right now.

Q: There’s been reports you saw an alcohol counselor and one for anger management?

A: No sir, I don’t believe those are true. I went after last spring, coach Sumlin kind of came to me and said they have an in-house guy, wanted me to sit down and meet with him. I was more than willing to learn whatever I could from him and sit down and have meetings with him. Those continued throughout throughout the next couple years. Had a great relationship with him. It was really nothing more than that.

Q: What separates you from the other QBs in this draft class?

A: I feel like I play the game with a lot of heart and a lot of passion that really is unrivaled. It’s the way I was brought up, the way that I was taught from when I started playing competitive football in high school. My coach, coach Julius Scott at Kerrville High, it didn’t matter who you were, what kind of player you were, he treated everybody the same and really taught me no matter what the situation was, fight til the very end and don’t show any weakness really.

Q: What kind of advice did you get from Cam Newton?

A: Being another Heisman Trophy winner I got a chance to really reach out to him probably in the spring, this summer, sometime through there. I probably had a two-hour conversation just getting to talk about everything, just about the people he has around him, what has made him so successful. Very eager to listen to him. Very fun-loving, fun-natured guy. I’m really thankful to be able to pick up the phone and call him if I ever did need anything.

Q: What was that man’s title in-house counselor?

A: I’m not sure what his title is. I knew who I was meeting with, but I’m not sure of his official title. Something along the lines of just a counselor.

Q: Last week you said if Houston didn’t pick you it would be their worst decision, it came off like a dare, do you regret saying that?

A: I wish there would have been other comments from the article taken more seriously than that one in general. The main thing I wanted to portray that was more in the subplots of the article was that whatever team I do end up, not necessarily the Texans, whether it was any of the 32 teams in the NFL, whenever I do get to that team, whenever I am in that organization, each one of those guys is now my teammate, my brother and if I’m on the field with those guys, whatever it takes to be successful to try and get a victory is what I’m going to do. I’m going to do anything for that team and for that organization to try and be great and try to be the best football player I can be. That’s what I wanted more than anything.

Q:  Are you prepared to change your lifestyle when you become the face of an NFL franchise?

A:  Absolutely. I believe whenever I decided to make this decision to turn professional it was a time to really put my college years in the past. This is a job now. There’s guys’ families, coaches’ families and jobs and all kinds of things on the line. For me it’s nothing, it won’t be a hard thing to kick or anything really a hard deal to not do. I’m extremely focused on whatever organization I’ll be at and really pouring my heart out trying to be football 24/7 with that team.

Q: Last week you noted the Browns had 20 starting quarterbacks since 1999. How did you learn that?

A: I think somebody told it to me along the way.

Q: How do you convince those teams you have the right character?

A: Just be myself. Obviously there’s nothing I can do going back to change what’s on film. Hopefully what’s on film will speak volumes, whatever they do think. Now it’s a chance for them to sit and know me personally, ask whatever questions they want. I’m not shying away from anything they do have to ask me, whether it’s wanting me to throw at private workouts and ask questions at my pro day. Whatever it may be, I’m more than open to answering anything that they have to throw out at me.

Q: What will be your greatest adjustment to NFL?

A: I think a big thing will be just taking care of myself. You have to be on the field, you have to be healthy to be a great player. Stay healthy, be able to slide, pick your poison really when you need to go out and get a first down and when you need to do some things. Stay healthy, slide when you need to and have better ball security, which is what I’m working on as well.

Q: You seem comfortable in the spotlight, why won’t you throw at combine?

A:  I’m participating in everything except the throwing. From what I’ve told every team if they want to work me out privately, any throw they want to see me make at my pro day, any interview, any question they want to ask me, any throw they want to see me make at any time, I’m more than willing to do that. I’ll be in a situation March 27 where I’ll have Mike Evans and a group of receivers that I’ve very comfortable with, very familiar with that I want to give those guys an opportunity to go and show what they can showcase as well. Extremely hard decision for me not to throw here, I’m an extremely competitive person. It’s something that my agent really kind of advised me on, but at the same time telling these teams anything they want to see, anything they want to hear from me, more than willing.


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