BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Southeastern Conference coaches apparently don’t think Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is the league’s best quarterback.
The coaches rated the Texas A&M quarterback as the preseason second-team selection on the teams released by the league on Thursday. Georgia’s Aaron Murray was the first-team choice while Alabama’s AJ McCarron received third-team honors.
Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman last season, but allegations that he received payment for autographs could threaten his eligibility.
Manziel’s lawyer has said he believes the quarterback will play in Texas A&M’s season opener against Rice on Aug. 31 even if an NCAA investigation isn’t finished, but that decision could ultimately be the Aggies’.
The cloud over his eligibility might have had something to do with Manziel’s downgrade. He was the first-team pick by league media before those allegations surfaced.
All three quarterbacks put up big stats, but Manziel had an unprecedented season in the SEC, even one-upping 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton of Auburn. He led the league with 1,410 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns and also passed for 3,706 yards and 26 scores.
Manziel is the first player in NCAA history to surpass 5,000 total yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.
Murray and McCarron might have better supporting casts among the skill positions, at least according to the coaches picks.
Georgia tailback Todd Gurley and tight end Arthur Lynch are both first-teamers. So are Crimson Tide tailback T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Jake Matthews, who protects Manziel’s blind side at left tackle, also made the first team.
Defensively, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as a first-team pick. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix were also among those selected.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. And the SEC didn’t release the ballots or vote totals.