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[November 19, 2012]
Texas A&M launches website promoting Manziel's Heisman credentials
Nov 17, 2012 (The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- As Heisman Trophy buzz percolated around scintillating freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel over the last month, Texas A&M's athletic department was unusually quiet.
On Friday, with the launch of heisman.aggieathletics.com, that all changed.
Jon Lee, editor of aggieathletics.com, said the idea was generated Monday, following the Aggies' 29-24 upset of No. 1 Alabama.
"We came out with a game plan and decided we wanted to launch one this week," Lee said.
The homepage of the website has a cutout of Manziel with a video titled The Amazing Johnny Football, which is a highlight tape from the first 10 games of the season.
Lee said the video was the brainwork of Buddy Kimberlin, the production manager for 12th Man Productions.
When you click on the stats tab, it shows Manziel's season statistics broken down game-by-game and then compares them to fellow Heisman contenders Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Collin Klein of Kansas State and Braxton Miller of Ohio State. It also compares his numbers to those of the past two SEC quarterbacks to win the Heisman -- Tim Tebow and Cam Newton.
A&M vice president of marketing and communications Jason Cook said the website isn't a campaign in the traditional sense. Rather, he said, it is a hub of information.
"A traditional Heisman campaign is geared to generate exposure for an athlete and institution," he said. "With A&M in the SEC, awareness of Johnny Manziel is not an issue for us. It's not a campaign, but really an effort to get the right information to the right people for them to make the right decision." Cook said the group decided on the Twitter hashtag #JohnnyFootball, rather than going with #HeisManziel because the nickname has been out and about since the 2012 season began.
"The national media already know Manziel as Johnny Football," he said. "There is already a lot of conversation, so it's a lot easier to do that than trying to move the conversation." On the site, there is a #JohnnyFootball tab that takes you to notable tweets about Manziel. For instance, former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton tweeted during the Alabama game, "'Johnny Football' Manziel has to be the leader for the Heisman after this week's game against Bama." Former San Antonio Spurs' center David Robinson also got into the action, tweeting, "Anyone else becoming a Johnny Manziel believer Freshman bringing his Aggies back in 4th quarter on the road. Reminding me of Tim Tebow." There is also an "In the News" tab that takes viewers to national articles about Manziel mania.
Lee said an entire content calendar is planned for the next few weeks, with something new being released every day all the way to Dec. 8, when the Heisman Trophy is presented in New York City.
Aggies have also taken to the web to actually have their voice heard. ESPN and Nissan _ the presenting sponsor or the Heisman _ is allowed to cast one vote and will cast an official vote for the player with the most votes online. The fan vote is only one of 928 votes that will be tabulated. As of Friday, Manziel was in second place in the poll, behind Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo.
Manziel mania has also stretched to merchandise sales. A&M sold out of an initial order of 504 No. 2 jersey-T-shirt hybrids in just two weeks. An order of 50 replica No. 2 jerseys sold out in just three days. And more than 700 orders are expected to be filled in the next few weeks.
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