Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin won't try to sway star quarterback Johnny Manziel to stay in school for his junior season next year, unless Manziel asks for his opinion. And even then, the second-year coach will only encourage him to stay if he believes he's not ready to make the jump. Sumlin was asked Tuesday about how he handles underclassmen considering early entry in the NFL draft, and while he didn't address Manziel specifically, he indicated he handles every case the same way: He lets those pondering the possibility come to him first.
"What I tell the guys is, 'I'll give you all the information. Then, if you ask me, I'll tell you what I think. If you don't ask me, I won't sway you,'" Sumlin said, according to transcription from texags.com.
Manziel is one of two Aggies, along with wide receiver Mike Evans, who are considered the most likely Texas A&M players to leave school for the 2014 NFL Draft. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last year and has been just as dominant this season as a second-year starter at quarterback. As a third-year sophomores, he and Evans are eligible for the 2014 draft if they declare before the league's mid-January deadline. Evans (6-5, 225 pounds) has been Manziel's most dangerous target, collecting more than 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons as a starter.
Sumlin said he will provide feedback from NFL circles to any underclassmen who may turn pro early.
"Fortunately, I've been around it a bunch, either as an assistant coach or a head coach," he said. "What we try to do is provide our juniors or third-year players with as much factual information as we can get. We have an NFL analysis that everybody has; fortunately, we've got our contacts in the NFL that are able to talk generally about some things. And we sit down with the family and give them all the information, give them advice."
Sumlin said last year he met with the families of Luke Joeckel, who left A&M after his junior season and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Jake Matthews, who returned for his senior season this year.
It's a little hard to imagine Manziel, with his confidence and bravado, worrying about anyone's opinion of his readiness for the NFL, his head coach included. Nevertheless, Aggies fans who want Sumlin to influence Manziel to stay had better hope Johnny Football wants his opinion -- and that his opinion is that Manziel should stay. Over the weekend, one NFL executive told philly.com that Manziel would be a first-round possibility, and a good fit, for the Philadelphia Eagles.