Youth has reigned this season in Southeastern Conference football.
Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel was voted by league coaches as the SEC offensive player of the year, the conference announced Wednesday, with South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney earning the defensive honor. This is the first time underclassmen have swept those two awards since the SEC began recognizing offensive and defensive players of the year in 2003.
Georgia defensive end David Pollack was a sophomore when he was the SEC's most valuable player in 2002.
It was expected to be a close call for SEC coach of the year, and Florida's Will Muschamp and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin wound up sharing the title. The SEC coach of the year has been shared just one other time since the award's inception in 1935, with that being a three-way tie between Nick Saban, Houston Nutt and Bobby Johnson in 2008.
Manziel, who also was named the league's freshman of the year, has thrown for 3,419 yards and rushed for 1,181 for the Aggies, who are 10-2 and face Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. He is the first freshman in NCAA history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a single season.
Clowney racked up 21.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks this season, and he had 4.5 sacks in South Carolina's 27-17 defeat of Clemson that clinched a 10-2 record for the Gamecocks entering the Outback Bowl against Michigan.
SEC coaches voted Florida senior kicker Caleb Sturgis and South Carolina junior punt returner Ace Sanders as the special-teams players of the year, and they tabbed Alabama senior center Barrett Jones as the scholar-athlete of the year. Texas A&M junior offensive tackle Luke Joeckel was awarded the Jacobs Trophy, given annually to the league's top blocker.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...