NEW YORK — Johnny Football just got himself a way cooler nickname: Johnny Heisman.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, taking college football's top individual prize Saturday night after a record-breaking debut.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finished a distant second and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was third in the voting. In a Heisman race with two nontraditional candidates, Manziel broke through the class barrier and kept Te'o from becoming the first purely defensive player to win the award.
Manziel drew 474 first-place votes and 2,029 points from the panel of media members and former winners.
"I have been dreaming about this since I was a kid, running around the backyard pretending I was Doug Flutie, throwing Hail Marys to my dad," he said after hugging his parents and kid sister.
Manziel seemed incredibly calm after his name was announced, hardly resembling the guy who dashes around the football field on other Saturdays. He simply bowed his head, and later gave the trophy a quick kiss.
"I wish my whole team could be up here with me," he said with a wide smile.
Te'o had 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points and Klein received 60 firsts and 894 points.
Just a few days after turning 20, Manziel proved times have truly changed in college football, and that experience can be overrated.
For years, seniors dominated the award named after John Heisman, the pioneering Georgia Tech coach from the early 1900s. In the 1980s, juniors started becoming common winners. Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win it, in 2007, and two more won it in the next two seasons.