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McCarron, Manziel take on spotlight in different ways

Marvin Gentry / USA TODAY Sports
Alabama QB A.J. McCarron approaches stardom a bit differently than his friend, Johnny Manziel.

HOOVER, Ala. -- They say opposites attract.

If there is any truth to that, there is little doubt why Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel have become friends. Neither denies that the two are close, even though they've known each other personally for less than a year. But what stood out as much as anything about their respective appearances at SEC Media Days was their completely opposite views about the celebrity that comes with being an elite-level college quarterback.

Manziel was clear: While he knows he's made some high-profile mistakes, he remains a steadfast embracer of the spotlight that comes with his notoriety.

"I'm not gonna shy away from that," Manziel said. "I'm not gonna change because I'm in the spotlight. I told people the night of the Heisman, no matter what happens, I'm going to adapt but I'm not going to change. I'm still the same person that I was."

McCarron has a starkly different perspective on his fame. With a model for a girlfriend in Katherine Webb, he has an ideal sounding board for what exposure can bring, both good and bad. Thursday, McCarron said he has turned down "10 times" as many public appearance opportunities as he's accepted.

"You can't be a normal 22-year-old kid," McCarron said. "Every 22-year-old's not doing what I'm doing. And I'm not able to do what they can do. I can't go out and act the fool in public and drink excessively and end up being wild. I can't do that. I'm not saying I want to in any type of way. But I want to be the type of guy that younger kids can look up to me."

So while McCarron would gladly win his fourth national championship ring this season -- and third as a starter -- without any more attention than necessary, Johnny Football would rather learn from the experience of celebrity than avoid it altogether.

As for their futures in pro football, one could deduce that McCarron might be a better fit with a small-market NFL team, while Manziel might have the ideal makeup to stand in the league's brightest-lit venues. Manziel has won a Heisman Trophy, rubbed elbows with rappers, rock stars and pro athletes the caliber of LeBron James. Plus, he may be in college a year or two longer than McCarron, anyway.

If he flames out, the cause is more likely to be football than fame.

"I'm not going for a Miss America pageant," Manziel said. "I'm playing football. I'm a 20-year-old kid. You can take that for what it's worth but I'm enjoying my life and continuing to live life to the fullest. Hopefully that doesn't upset too many people."

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.



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