Johnny Manziel is Texas A&M's quarterback, and at least for now, Aggies football practice will proceed under that assumption.
Coach Kevin Sumlin didn't say much in his first public comments since news broke that the NCAA is investigating whether Manziel violated NCAA rules by accepting payments for autographed memorabilia, but he made that much clear in his remarks Monday:
"He'll get as many reps as he was going to get."
Whether Manziel is getting similar practice reps later in fall camp, if the investigation is still ongoing, is another question entirely. The Aggies face a season opener against Rice in less than four weeks, their toughest game of the season against Alabama in less than six weeks, and the backup situation behind Manziel is bleak. The most experienced backup option Sumlin had departed for UTEP in February when Jameill Showers transferred out.
Showers backed up Miami Dolphins first-round pick Ryan Tannehill in 2011, then backed up Manziel last season. He played in 11 games for the Aggies, and while his experience was limited to 49 passes, he was by far the most seasoned option Sumlin had behind Johnny Football. Junior Matt Joeckel has 11 career pass attempts to lead six backups, three of whom are freshmen. That's good for second-team on the TAMU depth chart for the twin brother of Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Luke Joeckel.
That's not exactly a cast of options a coach would feel comfortable turning to in the third week of the season against the defending national champions. The Sept. 14 Alabama game in College Station carries with it, in large measure, the Aggies' championship hopes. Manziel's eligibility for that game will be of crucial importance to Texas A&M's entire season.
But for Sumlin, the Manziel wait begins one game at a time. Asked about his possible status against Rice in the season opener August 31, Sumlin said: "There's a lot of people involved in that decision."