The Union Recorder

Local Sports

November 8, 2012

Manziel among freshmen having huge impact in SEC

ST. LOUIS — am Newton's Southeastern Conference record for career rushing yards by a quarterback is in danger. It should come as no surprise that the player mounting the challenge will be a teenager for only another month.

Precocious, prolific and elusive, Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel is third on the list with 922 yards. With four regular-season games plus a bowl game to go, he's just 85 yards shy of becoming No. 2 overall and is in striking range of the 1,473-yard standard set by Newton, the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick out of Auburn in 2011.

Manziel's far from the only instant contributor in a conference that has produced the last six national champions and has seven of the top 11 schools in this week's AP Top 25. To those in charge of the depth chart, it's simply a sign of the times.

"From the running backs at Georgia to the quarterback at A&M, just so many young guys have come in and played very, very well," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "It just goes back to the level of talent that people are recruiting in this league.

"Pretty much every week, you play somebody that's got a young guy that's contributed and contributed very well."

That includes top-ranked Alabama, which has a number of high-profile freshmen.

Running back T.J. Yeldon caught the game-winning touchdown pass against LSU on a 28-yard screen last week and leads the Tide in rushing while averaging 7 yards per carry. Amari Cooper has a team-leading 32 receptions, 12 more than anyone else, to go with team highs of 472 yards and five TDs.

"More and more guys have the expectation of playing early on," coach Nick Saban said. "Maybe it's just some of the attention they get in high school now in terms of recruiting and playing in all-star games and things like that.

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