Manziel, Klein take in 'surreal' awards atmosphere
BY KYLE HIGHTOWER Associated Press
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 5:54 AM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - College football's biggest single night for awards is set for Thursday, and two of the most talked about players said the spotlight may be the most difficult they've endured.
Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and senior Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein headlined a group of several finalists who addressed the media Wednesday after arriving at Disney World in advance of the awards show.
Manziel and Klein, along with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, have already been selected finalists for college football's prized Heisman Trophy, which will be presented Saturday in New York.
The trio will be in the spotlight before that on Thursday, though. They are all finalists for another coveted player of the year honor, the Maxwell Award. Manziel and Klein also are both up for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, along with Ohio State's Braxton Miller.
Manziel said the experience has been eye opening for not only him, but the family members that accompanied him.
"It's been surreal for them as well. They're getting overwhelmed just as much as I am," Manziel said. "The thing they're doing is they're just enjoying it. They're just sort of living through me and enjoying the trip, coming to Orlando and then New York ... I'm happy for my family getting a chance to do all of this with me."
Te'o and Miller didn't arrive in Florida on Wednesday. But they will be in town for Thursday night's award show.
The Maxwell Award has been a predictor of Heisman winners in recent years, with Maxwell recipients Cam Newton (2010) and Tim Tebow (2007) going on to win the Heisman.
Known for his understated demeanor while at Kansas State, Klein seemed a lock to take the Heisman before the then-No. 1 Wildcats lost to Baylor 52-24 on Nov. 17.
But the guy who's earned the nickname "Optimus Klein" lived up to it after helping his team rebound and earn a convincing win over Texas last week to secure the second Big 12 championship in Kansas State's history. The Wildcats will meet Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
He said he hasn't let himself get caught up in much of the off-field hype that grew around him as Kansas State found success this season.
"I think my motivation toward this game and for my performance is deeper than that," Klein said. "I know what truly motivates me and a lasting human motivation is going to be more out of a love and a passion of what you're doing and who you're doing it for and why you're doing it, more than trying to prove someone wrong."
Manziel, known as "Johnny Football," is considered by some to be the Heisman front-runner following his late-season exploits leading the Aggies to five straight victories, a 10-2 mark and Cotton Bowl berth in their first Southeastern Conference campaign.
Playing a free-wheeling brand of football that was often built on improvisation, Manziel also nearly derailed Alabama's chance of defending its national championship when he propelled his team to a 29-24 upset over the Crimson Tide.
Original Print Headline: QBs Manziel, Klein take in awards atmosphere